The Opposite of Maybe

August 4, 2014

The Opposite of Maybe. Maddie Dawson. 2014. Broadway Books. 400 pages. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of Edelweiss.]

When I started reading The Opposite of Maybe, I wasn’t immediately drawn in. I wasn’t sure I’d relate to the characters, Rosie and Jonathan, because they seemed like such anomalies. They’re middle-aged, seemingly commitment-phobic, and generally not what you expect of people their age. Then I kept reading. Instead of what I expected, I was treated to a story about the messy reality of relationships, both familial and romantic, and how we make sense of our choices.

I found myself constantly conflicted about Rosie. One minute, she seemed so headstrong and assured, but the next, she seemed weak and complacent. This balance made her real and made her endearing. I felt completely caught up in her life — the confusion about impending motherhood, the heartbreak of a failed relationship, and the joy of a new friendship. Rosie is the heart of this story, through which everyone else’s stories are highlighted.

The author managed to capture the other characters’ complexities in genuine ways. I admit that I found Jonathan to be a villain for most of the book. He seemed completely self-absorbed, aloof, and flat out immature. But by the end of the book, he’d been developed into someone who was more complicated than he initially seemed. Rosie’s grandmother, Soapie, is a consistently cantankerous woman, but as her health declines, she becomes more honest about her own wishes and finally shares the truth about Rosie’s long-dead mother. Perhaps my favorite character was Tony. Still reeling from the fact that his wife left him for their mutual friend’s wife and being shut from his son’s life, Tony is a catalyst for Rosie’s new outlook on her situation. He is a balance to her, and as their friendship grows, the two share a mutually beneficial change of approach to their family lives.

This is an honest, at times heartwrenching story of how people come to grips with the fact that life doesn’t always happen how you plan it. While the characters are middle aged, I found it easy to relate to them. Coupled with a realistic set of circumstances and outcomes, I found that I couldn’t put this book down for long. I highly recommend it.

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