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Book: Valencia and Valentine
Author: Suzy Krause
Published: June 1, 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Source: Received for review from Thomas Allen & Son
For readers of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, debut author Suzy Krause delivers a quirky, colorful story about love, loss, second chances, and what it means to truly live.
Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.
Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbors, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.
The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common…but then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems. (Goodreads)
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Valencia and Valentine was an incredibly enjoyable read. It’s sad at many points but is hopeful. Suzy Krause surprises the reader with a unique structure, a lot of emotional ups and downs, quirky characters, and strange but somehow totally believable plot twists, all with a vast number of quotable bits that you’ll want to scribble in your notebook to read over and over again later. Her writing style is lovely.
The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine are told in alternating point of view chapters. It takes quite some time for the stories to intersect, but when they do it is lovely. I was a little bit confused at points, but I found my way.
I wanted to hug, comfort, and encourage both of these women. Valencia is so full of fear but is pushing herself to try what she can to overcome her fears. She has an utterly terrible job – a telephone debt collector – but watching her stretch and grow and build real, lasting friendships is lovely. And Mrs. Valentine is incredibly lonely after both her husband and her best friend pass away. She’s the old lady who talks to people that aren’t there, and is more tricksy than you initially realize.
These characters are pictures of beautiful souls who take life head on, build upon their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and ultimately have a happy ending. This book is smart, witty, and full of empathy.
I’m excited to see what else Suzy Krause writes.
Content warnings: This book includes OCD, anxiety, and depression.