How to Walk Away – Katherine Center
Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
On the cusp of her engagement, Margaret Jacobson’s fiancé whisks her away for a romantic night in the skies; he’s training to be a pilot, and, despite her fear of flying, promises her a night she’ll never forget, topped off with a dreamy proposal. Her dreams come crashing down when a storm forces the plans’s landing awry. While her fiancé walks away without a scratch, Margaret is confined to a hospital room with a low likelihood that she’ll ever walk again. Her troubles are made ever more complicated when she begins to fall for her standoffish physical therapist, Ian, a stoic Scot with a history of his own problems. How to Walk Away is a captivating story about love, loss, and recovery.
Katherine Center has created a first-person narrative with incredible strength. Margaret is a sarcastic, spirited, and charismatic protagonist. She’s never afraid to speak her thoughts. Too often, I feel like I’m saddled with a narrator who’s too scared to tell the man she loves him, too shy to speak up for herself, or too surrounded by a plot made all the more suspenseful by shoddy communication. Margaret is none of these things. She is authentic, and she is a narrator we can all root for because she doesn’t restrain herself when honesty would serve her better. She is blunt about her fractured relationship with her fiancé; she is transparent about her strained familial bonds; she fights relentlessly to find closure in her connection with Ian.
Margaret’s journey to recovery is filled with setbacks, obstacles, loss, heartbreak, and disappointment, and yet, Center has given us an ultimately feel-good story. The book is bursting with motivational speeches, supportive family members and friends, and a tireless effort toward optimism. It’s reminiscent of Me Before You, by with less crying at the end.
How to Walk Away isn’t the first of its kind, but it is a radiant, lighthearted story about dark-hearted issues. The characters are flawed and annoying. Margaret’s mother is a bundle of joy wrapped up in back-handed comments, micro-managing, and passive aggression. Her fiancé is a royal bawbag, as Ian would say. Ian himself is slightly one-dimensional and massively frustrating at his worst. Margaret tells him time and time again about her feelings and begs him for the truth, and he stubbornly refuses to admit to his own with the mainsplainy thought that it’s all for her own good. One year, a deportation and, a career implosion later, and he finally gets the big picture. Men, right?
This was the book I didn’t know I needed. After binging on dense classics, gorey thrillers, and expansive fantasies, a refreshingly realistic romance hit all the right spots. How to Walk Away is flowery, fluffy, and fairy-tale-like, but Margaret is a damaged, depressed narrator just trying to find the bright side of it all.