Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: Lisa DeJong's Living with Regret

I had my whole life mapped out. Perfect guy. Perfect friends. Everything was exactly the way I wanted it.

That was until that night--the one I can’t remember. It’s all my fault, and now the memories are all I have left of him. Of us.

My guilt drowns me until Sam Shea steps back into my life and helps me to the surface. He slowly opens my heart and crawls deep inside before I even realize what’s happening. I know I don’t deserve him.

While I’m trying to get used to my new life, pieces of that night slowly start to come back to me. Lies and secrets shatter everything I thought I knew.

Maybe I’m not the only one living with regret.

4.5 Fantastic Stars!
Review by Jen Hagen
One of my favorite ugly cry books (When It Rains) was penned by Ms. DeJong.  I am fully aware of how she can rip our hearts out and slowly put them back together, but I was not prepared to feel this from the first page.  She didn’t hold back…she pulled out all the stops from the get go.   While this is classified as being part of the When It Rain series, it can be read as a standalone.   The characters had minor parts in When It Rains. (roommates of Beau’s).

The story begins with Rachel waking up and not recalling how she lost 24 hours.  The last thing she remembers is taking a final semester test of her freshman year before heading back home with her boyfriend, Cory.  The little bit of information that people are offering to her tells her that she made a poor decision.


The darkness was a much better place.  Sometimes it’s better not to know…I want to fall back into naivety, but it’s too late.  What’s done can’t be undone.    


Cory and Rachel have been dating for 5 years.  Rachel was probably a little too dependent on Cory to ensure her happiness.  Before Rachel and Cory started dating, Rachel was very good friends with Sam.  Sam and Rachel immediately became good friends to each other when he moved into the area when Rachel was 8 years old.  Cory felt threatened by Sam, and Rachel being so in love with Cory and wanting to keep him happy, she gave up the friendship with Sam. 


The past 6 months have been difficult in Cory and Rachel’s relationship, but Rachel is not willing to let Cory go and fights to keep them together.  Cory concedes and they remain the epitome of a young couple in love with Rachel planning for their lives together forever.  Following Rachel’s poor decision, it is unclear what the future holds for her.


Every story has a beginning, middle, and end.  Cory was supposed to be my middle and end.  Now, I don’t know what part he plays.

Sam is a quiet 23-year-old man who has taken over his dad’s woodworking business and lives alone above the shop.  He never had a life where somebody showed him love.  His mother died when he was young and his father provided a roof over Sam’s head and food in his belly, but never showed him unconditional love.  His father was a drunk and small-town stigma has labelled Sam as a rebel – although Sam is far from that.  Sam is just used to being by alone and keeps his thoughts and words to himself.  He can often be found in the fields where he and Rachel used to be when they were younger, searching for life’s answers.   

Sam makes a reappearance in Rachel’s life when she desperately needs a friend.  Everybody seems to have cast Rachel aside based on the events of that evening.  Sam is there for Rachel and patiently brings her back into the here and now.  Sam still harbors deep feelings for Rachel; feelings that he regrets not acting upon 5 years ago.  He wants Rachel to reciprocate what he feels, but Rachel feels tremendous guilt in feeling happiness. 

“What are we doing, Sam?”
“I just want to be your friend.” His voice is low, but sure, with absolutely no hesitation.

“Is that all this is?” I stare at him, but he looks straight ahead.  I’d do just about anything to see his eyes, to receive some of the easy comfort they give me.

His face finally shows, the corner of his lips turned upward.  If only I could believe it when I look up into his eyes.  “It has to be, doesn’t it.”


Through their daily phone calls, texts and visits, Sam is able to bring Rachel out of her desolation, but when Rachel begins to have fragments of her memory come back there are only more questions.   People Rachel believed she could trust are now at the forefront of betrayal.  She has so many questions and no answers, and when the answers finally come will it be enough for Rachel to finally forgive herself and move forward?

It’s not my fault.  It’s not.

And oh goodness…the little plot twist thrown in is the bee’s knees!!  I did not see that coming!!  I love reading books that allow us a visit with old friends.  We get to see Kate and Beau, and Kate is beneficial in pushing Rachel to allow feelings other than remorse and regret.  Kate is speaking from true experience and Rachel hangs heavily onto Kate’s words of wisdom.  Although it was a make-your-heart-hurt read, it still ends up being a make-your-heart-swell-with-love read. 

I love him because of the way he loves me.  The way he’s brought me from where I was to where I am.  I love him because of the way he is – kind, protective, always there.  I just love to love him.

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