Ruthie Knox has, once again, created a story that snatched me in from the beginning. What’s not intriguing about a young woman jetting off to find and drag her mom back to Wisconsin from New York when she’s disappeared … yet again? The story then follows Allie’s nuanced relationships with her family and the new relationship with Winston, whom she runs into in a bar while spying on her mother. The budding relationship, while significant, actually doesn’t overpower the overarching story about Allie’s search for her mother. There is a great deal of connections between Winston and Allie, which serve to push the story forward in exciting ways. I never completely knew what was going to happen next, and found I was often skeptical when the characters seemed to be certain of what was going on around them.
Something that surprised me was how conflicted I was about the protagonist. Allie initially seems like a loving daughter who just wants her parents happy and together. However, as the book unfolds, so too does Allie. She isn’t quite as perfect as she views herself, and as her relationships with the other characters are explored, the reader sees her with a depth that makes her more endearing even when I didn’t find her all that likable.
Other characters enjoy the same richness. Knox has a knack for presenting the character, but letting their depth be revealed through the character of their relationships with others. This is particularly evident with Winston, whose troubled relationship with his daughter is a constant source of strain. I was most surprised, however, to get this sense from Allie’s father. For so much of the book, he seems to just be a cuckolded husband who won’t stand up for himself. However, toward the end, he’s shown to actually be one of the wisest and most perceptive people in the entire book.
Madly is a solid book that is interesting without being unbelievable, and romantic without being trite. I definitely recommend this!