Friday, September 15, 2023

Review - - The Year of Second Chances

The Year of Second Chances
by Lara Avery
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Robin Lindstrom spent her first year as a young widow cocooned in the safe haven of the Minnesota farmhouse she’d once shared with Gabe, the love of her life—the man she thought she’d be with ’til the end. But her world is turned upside down when she receives an email informing her that her late husband has enrolled in something called “Bubbl”—a dating service. The app subscription lasts 12 months; use it!, Gabe’s message-from-the-grave reads. I don’t like the thought of you being alone. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it as a favor to mePlease.

After twelve months of pulling herself together, Robin’s fragile equilibrium is knocked sideways. How could Gabe, of all people, be asking her to venture out into the murky waters of 21st century online dating? As her underemployed brother, Theo, points out, it’s “only” for a year, and it’s basically Gabe's last request.

And so Robin tentatively takes steps to put herself out into the world once more, even if it means awkward outings at bowling alleys, club-hopping with DJs she meets online, and stammering conversations at dinner. Along the way, she’s surprised to find herself meeting new people, trying new things…and even getting to know a new version of herself. Because everyone deserves a second chance at love—and loving life.

PJ's Thoughts:

This is a humorous, heart-tugging, sometimes poignant, and ultimately hopeful story that kept me flipping pages from start to finish. 

Writing about widowhood is a tricky thing and navigating grief is highly individual. Having said that, and from my own experience only, I thought Avery did a good job of balancing the many emotions that come at you during those first few years. It's an unsettling time. Making decisions is difficult. Clinging to the past is comforting. Moving forward is not. Sometimes, we need a nudge. My late husband promised to come back and haunt me if I didn't choose to move forward, choose to be happy. Robin's husband signed her up at an online dating site. 

One would expect grief, and poignant moments, to be key elements of Robin's story and they are, but there's also humor, hope, the first flickering embers of desire that Robin never thought she'd feel again, and surprising stirrings in her heart (that she really never thought she'd feel again), all leading to a new path forward for a woman who was certain her life path had already been set in stone. I laughed, shed some tears, cringed with her as she reluctantly dipped her toes back into the dating pool, cheered her on as she finally confronted the dysfunctional issues within her family, and sighed with satisfaction as she ultimately found her footing - found herself - and took those first steps forward into a new chapter of her life. 



  1. Starting a new life is never wonderful. Nor easy. Nor what we think we need. But, it can work and it can put us in places and situations we never expected. This is a new to me author. This book sounds interesting and a fun read. Thanks for the review.

  2. I will have to add this to my tbr list! It sounds likecI'll need to keep some tissues by my side.

  3. I have seen this book mentioned a few times. It is a hard topic to deal with well. The story shouldn't be too maudlin or too flip and cheerful. Too many of us will join the ranks of widowhood, hopefully not as young as Robin. No matter the age, it is a difficult adjustment with no timeline to complete. This book sounds like a very good look at what it is like for some and how to deal with it. It is difficult enough to move on without families getting involved. I've seen situations where the in-laws have let it be known that it would be disrespectful to their child for the widowed spouse to find someone else, and if grandchildren are involved it can be even worse. I am really interested in seeing how Robin works her way through it all.
    Thank you for the review and the recommendation.