My Review of Fellow Finalist Cathy Zane’s Better Than This
A few weeks ago, IBPA announced the finalists for the Benjamin Franklin Award, and Tiger Drive is a nominee for the Popular Fiction category along with three other finalists’ novels. Here is my first post, sharing more details.
I immediately purchased the other three authors’ novels. First, I read and reviewed Rob Hiaasen’s Float Plan (here is the review). Next, I read Dave Edlund’s Guarding Savage: A Peter Savage Novel (here is the review).
And I was beginning to see a common theme across our novels, but there was still one more book to read before I could be sure.
Yesterday, I read Cathy Zane’s Better Than This. Before I share my review, here is the description from Amazon.
Sometimes the most enviable life is really a private hell.
On the surface, Sarah Jenkins appears to have it all: a handsome, wealthy and successful husband, a precocious five-year-old daughter, and a beautiful home in an affluent Seattle neighborhood. Her quirky best friend and fellow high school teacher, Maggie, marvels at her luck—and envies her happiness.
But Sarah is far from happy. She feels empty and on edge, harangued by a critical inner voice—and as the truth about her marriage and details of her past emerge, her “perfect” life begins to crumble. But just when it seems all is lost, a long forgotten, unopened letter changes everything, and with the support of friends, Sarah begins to rebuild her life. Can she quiet the critical voice in her head and learn to value herself instead?
Yes, another Five Star book. Seriously. This book will change lives.
This was me 46% of the way through Better Than This by Cathy Zane and why I skipped the gym (sorry, honey) and other plans so I could finish reading Cathy’s novel on Sunday:
Relationships can be complicated. One with deep secrets can be dysfunctional and toxic. Communication and trust shut down, backing everyone into a corner or pushing someone out the door. It was painful to watch Sarah’s confidence crumble, and even more painful to watch her walk around on eggshells, worrying about everything she said and did as a wife and mother.
I wanted to shake her.
And hug her at the same time.
Eventually, with the help of friends, Sarah finds her bearings in a gratifying way. But before you think I spoiled the book for you, don’t forget about all the secrets! My lips are sealed!
From a craft perspective, Cathy Zane is a patient storyteller. And patience was necessary for this story because for Sarah to be realistic and resonating, Zane had to demonstrate that it’s not easy to change a lifetime of habits or patterns or to “give up” on a marriage with a cinematic, dramatic exit, shouting, “You don’t deserve me. It’s over!” Because we all know how seldom someone ends a relationship in a blink of an eye or with a huge eye-opening epiphany that leads to immediate action and change. No, more often than not, it’s a long, slow journey because it’s not about changing our partner or spouse, it’s about changing ourselves.
I think Zane is a generous author. I think she consciously chose to write a story for all the Sarahs of the world and one they could read and walk away from with hope and empowerment, saying, “Okay, I’m moving in the right direction.”
And as a psychotherapist, Cathy would know what the Sarahs need to hear and learn. Since completing her graduate degree in 1999, Cathy has worked extensively with families.
Thanks for being you, Cathy Zane.
I look forward to updating everyone next week about who won the gold Benjamin Franklin Award and sharing more about the common theme of our novels and some really cool* outcomes of reading these books. I also can’t wait to tell you more about the IBPA conference. IBPA believes in indie authors and they are making a difference every day. I love them.
Have you ever read a novel that changed your life?
As always, thanks for being you.
P.S. Feel free to share this email and spread the word about these Five Star books.
*”really cool”–sometimes I feel like I have no business being a writer.
Want to read the first four chapters of Tiger Drive and the first chapter of my soon to be released In the Doghouse: A Couple’s Breakup from Their Dog’s Point of View? Subscribe here and receive them via email.