Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️++
There has always been this generational divide. I tell my nineteen-year-old son that one of the arguments against evolution is the continuous divide. Humanity doesn’t seem to change much in its thoughts about changes between generations. The reality is that there isn’t much. Colleen Hoover’s newest book, Regretting You, illustrates this brilliantly. The story follows a mother and daughter, Morgan and Clara. As Clara falls in love, Hoover weaves her mother’s story around it to illustrate their similarities when the two believe they are so different. As their stories progress, you can’t help but note their parallels. The difference, though, lies in their choices, their decisions. Clara represents the choice that her mother did not make for herself at Clara’s age. And the price is an emotionally tawdry journey towards self-discovery, second chances, and forgiveness.
So…I’ve asked this question in past reviews. How do you know that a romance book is “good?” Obviously, this is determined by the reader. How did you connect with the characters? Did the story flow? Was the reading seamless? For me, as I’ve mentioned in prior reviews, good in a romance manifests itself in my emotional upheaval. Does the book bring out the most intense emotions in me? Do I suspend my disbelief of the storyline to find myself represented in the characters? If the answers are “yes,” then the romance finds its place on my list of top reads. Regretting You is this such read.
What is it about Regretting You? First of all, I have a confession (I tend to do this quite a bit in my reviews, as I’m a relatively new romance reader): this is my first Colleen Hoover story. I’ve known about her for several months after attending Book Bonanza, but I hadn’t been able to read her yet as I’m constantly reading ARCs and writing reviews (along with my day job of teaching college students the art of college writing). I have several of her books in my Kindle library, awaiting my heart. When Regretting You fell into my lap, I died a little. Receiving an ARC for this monster of a writer (her reputation precedes her) was a gift, a blessing. It was also an opportunity to fall into her words. And fall I did.
This read is the type of book that you want to put down, throw it at the wall, stomp on it, but you can’t because it compels you forward almost against your will. I began it during the daytime and fought with myself over it. I wanted to read it but didn’t want to read it because the story is such that it burrows under your skin, shooting you in the heart with its revelations and truths. When I put it down, that first day, to go to sleep as it was nearing the morning hours, I didn’t sleep. The essence of this book mulled through my brain, and I slept restlessly. If you’re wondering if all of this is “good,” the answer is yes. For me, this is the type of writing that excites me because it’s a torment. I want the stories I read to push me, compel me to feel. If not, then its truth isn’t powerful enough.
In order to feel the power of writing, I need to find myself in the story. Where did this occur in Regretting You? Smack dab in the character of Morgan. No, I did not have a teen pregnancy. Yes, I did marry my high school sweetheart (and divorce him three years later), and yes, I have a teenaged, albeit a young adult, son (from my second husband). Like her, in the past two years, I’ve struggled to rewrite myself, to find who I am without my son as the center of my life. Like Morgan, my identity was shaken, as he graduated and became a college student. It’s Morgan’s truth that connected with my soul, and, as her journey progresses in the story, it’s her story that coerced me forward. The genius of Hoover’s story lies in the relationship between Morgan and her daughter, Clara. Setting them up as bookends is the key to understanding Regretting You because I saw Morgan’s past remedied in her daughter’s present. Clara embodies the “should have” of Morgan’s life. Through Morgan’s sacrifice of self for husband and daughter, Clara is able to live the alternative of her mother’s life. I think that’s a parental truth that we hate to consider: how often we push our children to live a better life than our own. Yet, our mistakes, our choices, as we see in this story, simply make us stronger, able to bear the weight of life. Morgan’s journey illustrates this beautifully in Hoover’s book.
Yes, Colleen Hoover is a writer of romance. However, Regretting You transcends genres in that it’s YA, romance, and literary fiction all in one. It’s more than the romances of Morgan and Clara; in fact, in my opinion, the romances of the women with the men in their lives are tertiary to the journeys of Morgan and Clara towards self-discovery. Yes, falling in love plays a part in their stories, but the true romance of Regretting You lies in the relationship between mother and daughter. Here is the power and the truth of the story, as Morgan and Clara grow apart and then heal, stronger together than they ever were separated. In acceptance of generational differences, in recognizing their impenetrable bond, Hoover’s brilliance shines. Regretting You burrowed into my soul and found its place because it’s a challenge for acceptance, forgiveness, and a true love, not necessarily found with a significant other, but found in a familial bond.
In love and romance,