Publication date: June 2019
Review, short version: Three roses out of four.
Review, long version:
Meet Evvie Drake.
Evvie rhymes with “Chevy,” not “greevy.”
It’s short for Eveleth, which is a pretty rotten name, considering her mother – who abandoned Evvie when she was 10 – gave it to her because Mom was miserable in her small-town Maine home, and pined for the dreams she’d once had in her hometown of Eveleth, Minnesota.
“I am named after my mother’s unhappiness,” says Evvie.
Meet Dean Tenney, a big-time major league pitcher until suddenly – he couldn’t pitch anymore. The fans and sports writers who cheered him one day now consider him the personification of “failure.”
Dean needs a low-profile place to figure out what’s next.
Meet Linda Holmes, author of Evvie and Dean’s story, Evvie Drake Starts Over.
I was first intrigued by Holmes because she’s on National Public Radio – NPR – a station I listen to a lot and greatly respect. When I learned she’d written her first book, I wanted to know more. Evvie came out in late June 2019 and hit The New York Times best seller list on July 13 – pretty impressive for a first-time author!
There’s a third character, Andy, a mutual friend of both Evvie and Dean, though they’ve never met. Andy knows that Dean is looking for a place to lick his wounds, and that widowed Evvie has a small apartment at the back of her house. It’s obvious where this is going, and that’s OK.
I found Dean easy to like – he’s smart, sensitive, and really suffering from losing the career he loved and now appears to have lost. And he’s tried everything to fix it; he tells Andy, “I went to eight sports psychologists and two psychiatrists…I did acupuncture, acupressure, suction cups on my shoulder, and candles in my fucking ears…I quit gluten, I quit sugar, I quit sex, I had extra sex, I ate no meat, just meat…”
The list went on, and my heart went out to him.
But Evvie – sometimes not so easy to like. She could be funny, but also do some major Pity Party. She has a lot of baggage and knows it – “Baggage. So goddamn much. I should have my own cargo plane” – but can’t acknowledge that she needs professional help.
Until, toward the end, a friend says, “Your head is the house you live in, so you have to do the maintenance.”
I started out liking Evvie, but then I got annoyed, then exasperated, then back to liking her, then I got pissed at her, and then…
Yup – twice. The good kind.
So I’d have to say that the author did a good job of keeping me engaged in her story.
I did have trouble liking Evvie at times, but I had no trouble liking Evvie. It’s well-written, easy to read, a good story with complex characters that I cared about all the way through.
Evvie is Holmes’ first novel – and I hope, not her last.