I loved Pack Up The Moon the debut novel by Anna McPartlin, whose follow ups to this debut I have also read and reviewed for this blog. In my review for Apart From The Crowd, which is the novel after this one but was written before Alexandra, Gone, which was the first McPartlin novel I read and reviewed, I thought that Apart was not as well written as Alexandra and that perhaps this reflected the novelist's growth as a writer between Apart and Alexandra. But having read Pack Up and found it as well written and as good as Alexandra, I've now come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, there was just something a little off with the writing in Apart. I loved Pack Up The Moon and I love Anna McPartlin--she has most definitely gained another fan. I'll refrain from worrying about when her next novel will drop until after I've finished As Sure As The Sun which is the last McPartlin novel I haven't read.
Have I said I loved this book? Well, I did, and it was hard to put down after I was sucked into the lives of the wonderful, vibrant characters. You know you're reading a good book when all you want to do is read it rather than do anything else.
Emma is happy with her boyfriend, John, her first and only love; they've been together over ten years since they were sixteen. Emma thinks they have their whole lives ahead of them with a future that holds marriage and children. Struck in the street by a car, John's pronounced dead at the hospital, and Emma's world is shattered. Enveloped by a haze of grief, guilt, pain, and sadness, Emma and John's close knit group of friends rally together to carry each other and Emma through the pain of rebuilding a new normal without John. Some friendly advice from your intrepid reviewer: keep some tissues handy through the first incredibly sad and heart wrenching first chapters that detail John's death and funeral.
In any McPartlin novel the characters are the best part--they're funny, bold, and vividly drawn. Each character in this novel is no exception as each has their own distinctive personality. There's Clodagh, who's unlucky in love and only wants to find her Mr. Right; Anne and Richard have a seemingly happy marriage that's fast headed for crisis after a move to the Irish countryside; Sean is the ladies' man who has slept his way through all the women in Ireland because he can't have the one woman he's secretly been in love with for over a decade.
Ultimately this is a vivid, witty, heartwarming story of lifelong friendships, of letting go and moving on, and realizing that sometimes your future has been right in front of you all this time. I highly recommend this book, and lately, people, "highly recommend" doesn't come easily from this reviewer. Check this book out the next time you're in the library--you won't regret it.
--Reviewed by Ms.Angie