Today I'm happy to be bringing you my review of The Eighth Wonder by Kimberly S. Young
Title: The Eighth Wonder
Author: Kimberly S. Young
Published: February 2, 2012
Source: Received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Nicole Benson is a self-made woman. She put herself through school, sacrificing marriage and children for her career. In the summer of 1997, at the age of 35, she finally graduated with a Ph.D. from NYU, but her life is thrust into chaos when her father, the only person she's ever leaned on emotionally, is diagnosed with terminal cancer. After fifteen years in New York City, Nicole leaves everything and everyone she knows to teach for a year in Bradford, Pennsylvania to be close to her father in nearby Buffalo. Now, trapped in tiny Bradford, she has never felt more alone in her life. . . until she meets Tom Ryan. At 44, Tom represents what Nicole longs to be: settled, secure, and clear about his purpose and direction in life. Emotionally scarred, he and his wife of 23 years survived the death of their daughter to leukemia. Tom and Nicole's story begins as a journey of self-discovery for both of them but turns to bittersweet tragedy when their friendship becomes love. Nicole risks offering what she has never given before, her heart; and Tom has never felt happier or more conflicted when he falls in love for the second time in his life. Their lives become intertwined and changed forever when they both must face the most difficult decision of their lives.
My Rating: 4 Stars
I was immediately pulled in to the story from the first line, curious to know who "he"is. The relationship between Tom and Nicole is slow, gradual, and just right.
Nicole is a bit of a drifter, afraid of committment, unsure of what she really wants to do with herself. I think part of this is due to the fact that her mother left their family when she was a teenager. That's a blow to any child, no matter how old you are. And I can definitely see why she would be afraid of committment if one of the people who was supposed to be there for you, no matter what, up and left.
Tom is married, but he and his wife have drifted apart since their daughter Lisa, died of Leukemia. One thing that was a little grating about his character was the way he was constantly repeating things and questioning why he was cheating on his wife. It wasn't the fact that he was questioning it, that was actually nice to see, it was just the manner in which he was doing it. More the language than anything. I don't know if I was misreading the voice, or if this was done intentionally, but it felt like Tom's dialogue was a lot more stiff than Nicole's. Nicole's had rough edges too, at times, but Tom's seemed a bit more formal than hers.
As I mentioned, the romance between Tom and Nicole is very sweet, and not rushed. It's a bit of a secret, as they live in a small town. The one thing I particularly like is that the author went in another direction with this in regards to the affair itself. Usually, there's some big blow up where the wife finds out and is extremely angry, and the lover is scorned.
In this case, that doesn't happen. You do get so involved in Tom and Nicole's relationship though that you wonder why they did it if they knew it would just cause them to hurt when it was all over. But, as I mentioned, it is just right. I won't say what happens but I will say this story certainly doesn't have a typical fairytale ending. The ending does serve it's purpose though, even though you may be rooting for something different
I was invested enough in the book and the relationship that I even shed a few tears at the end of the story, so this may be perfect for someone who needs a little cry.
Nicole's character grows a lot throughout the book and it's nice to see her be comfortable in her own skin. There are also some great secondary characters in the story as well. Quite the mix of a New York socialit (of sorts) Carol, an eccentric professor from England, and others along the way.
There are also a lot of beautiful encounters with and descriptions of nature within the book. It really made me feel as if I were in the story with the characters.
I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a simple romance story that will stop and make you ponder just how each decision you make will affect your life.