How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away.jpg

How to Walk Away
by Katherine Center
320 pages
St. Martin's Press (May 15, 2018)
Advance copy provided by publisher

Thanks to my line of work (hospital chaplain), I am often drawn to stories of tragedy, especially with a hospital or medical setting, and issues like end of life discussions or life-altering traumas; this probably sounds horrible, but I guess we gravitate to what we know? It will come as no surprise, then, that Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was a huge hit for me. A little dramatic to be sure, but I felt very connected to both sides of that dilemma and have often searched for other novels with similar themes. 

If you’d asked me before the crash, I’d have told you that feelings were like blocks of primary colors: You felt blue for a while, then yellow, then red. But now I saw the emotional landscape quite differently - more like the pointillism of a Seurat painting: each color made up of many other colors. Look closely, and its dots. Stand back, and it’s an afternoon on the lake - all the colors relying on each other for texture and meaning.

Enter How to Walk Away which, in addition to the trauma sustained by its sparkling protagonist (no spoilers: Margaret is involved in an accident and discovers she may never walk again), has so much going for it: set in Austin, Texas, one of my favorite places; enough laughs to make you forget that this is supposed to be an unpleasant turn of events; a heartfelt romance; some predictability, but in the best possible way. It has some of the elements of Me Before You that I loved, without the emotional hangover.

There are some family dynamics, since Margaret has somewhat strained relationships with her mother and sister, that must be faced; Margaret will need their help during her recovery and these characters are so authentic and relatable. In addition, secrets are revealed, there's a little heartbreak and, again, so much wit and perfectly balanced humor; I could not have asked for more in this novel! 

Stop trying to cheer me up. You know it makes me feel worse.”
”You feel worse, anyway.”
”Yeah. But you make me feel guilty about it.”
”Look, I just saw a very inspiring quote on Instagram that said, ‘Our struggles lead us to our strengths.’”
”Say the word ‘Instagram’ one more time and I will burn this building down.”

How to Walk Away is a treat to be savored, but I'd bet that you'll have trouble putting it down. If you're looking for a poolside, backyard (or front porch!), vacation, or whichever relaxing place you choose kind of read, you have to give this one a try.

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