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From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there's her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there's Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won't let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very besta masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.
Praise for How to Walk Away:
"A heartbreak of a novel that celebrates resilience and strength." Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost
"If you just read one book this year, read How to Walk Away." Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop
"Warm, witty, and wonderfully observed." Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love
"Sympathetic and refreshing!" Elinor Lipman, bestselling author of The Family Man
"I can't think of a blurb good enough for this novel...poignant, funny, heartbreaking." Jenny Lawson, bestselling author of Furiously Happy
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.10(d)|
About the Author
KATHERINE CENTER is the author of several novels, including Happiness for Beginners, The Bright Side of Disaster, Everyone Is Beautiful, Get Lucky, and The Lost Husband. Her books and essays have appeared in Redbook, People, USA Today, Vanity Fair, and Real Simple, as well as the anthologies Because I Love Her, CRUSH, and My Parents Were Awesome. Katherine is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. She lives in Houston with her husband and two sweet children.
Read an Excerpt
THE BIGGEST IRONY about that night is that I was always scared to fly.
Always. Ever since I was old enough to think about it.
It seemed counterintuitive. Even a little arrogant. Why go up when gravity clearly wanted us to stay down?
Back in high school, my parents took my big sister, Kitty, and me to Hawaii one year. I dreaded the flight from the moment they told us until well after we were home again. The phrase "flying to Hawaii" translated in my head to "drowning in the ocean." The week before the trip, I found myself planning out survival strategies. One night after lights out, I snuck to Kitty's room and climbed into her bed.
I was a freshman, and she was a senior, which gave her a lot of authority.
"What's the plan?" I demanded.
Her face was half buried in the pillow. "The plan for what?"
"For when the plane hits."
She opened an eye. "Hits what?"
"The ocean. On the way to Hawaii."
She held my gaze for a second. "That's not going to happen."
"I have a bad feeling," I said.
"Now you're jinxing us."
"This is serious. We need a survival strategy."
She reached out and patted my bangs. "There is no survival strategy."
"There has to be."
"No." She shook her head. "Because if we don't crash, we won't need one. And if we do crash ..." She paused so I could catch her drift.
"We won't need one?"
A nod. "We'll just be dead." Then she snapped her fingers.
"You make it sound easy."
"Dying is easy. It's not dying that's hard."
"Guess you have a point there."
She closed her eyes. "That's why I'm the brains of the family."
"I thought I was the brains," I said, nudging her.
She rolled away. "You know you're the beauty."
Impossibly, we survived that trip.
Just as impossibly, I survived many more trips after that, never hitting anything worse than turbulence. I'd read the statistics about how flying was the safest of all the modes of transportation — from cars to trains to gondolas. I'd even once interned at an office right next to an international airport and watched planes go up and come down all day long with nary a problem. I should have been long over it.
But I never could lose the feeling that "flying" and "crashing" were kind of the same thing.
Now, years later, I was dating — seriously dating — a guy who was just days away from getting his pilot's license. Dating him so seriously, in fact, that on this particular Saturday, as we headed out to celebrate my not-yet-but-almost-official new dream job, I could not shake the feeling that he was also just about to ask me to marry him. Like, any second.
Which is why I was wearing a strapless black sundress.
If I'd thought about it, I might have paused to wonder how my boyfriend, the impossibly fit and charming Charles Philip Dunbar, could be one hundred percent perfect for me in every possible way — and also be such an air travel enthusiast. He never thought twice about flying at all — or doing anything scary, for that matter, like scuba diving or bungee jumping. He had an inherent faith in the order of the universe and the principles of physics and the right of mankind to bend those principles to its will.
Me, I'd always suspected that chaos was stronger than order. When it was Man against Nature, my money was on Nature every time.
"You just never paid attention in science class," Chip always said, like I was simply under-informed.
True enough. But that didn't make me wrong.
Chip believed that his learning to fly was going to cure my fears. He believed that he'd become so awesome and inspiring that I'd have no choice but to relax and enjoy it.
On this, we had agreed to disagree.
"I will never, ever fly with you," I'd announced before his first lesson.
"You think that now, but one day you'll beg me to take you up."
I shook my head, like, Nope. "Not really a beggar."
Now, he was almost certified. He'd done both his solo and his solo cross-country. He'd completed more than twice his required hours of flight training, just to be thorough. All that remained? His Check Ride, where a seasoned pilot would go up with him and put him in "stressful situations."
"Don't tell me what they are," I'd said.
But he told me anyway.
"Like, they deliberately stall the plane, and you have to cope," he went on, very pleased at the notion of his impressive self-coping. "Or you do a short-field landing, where you don't have enough space. And of course: night flying."
The Check Ride was next week. He'd be fine. Chip was the kind of guy who got calmer when things were going haywire. He'd make a perfect pilot. And I'd be perfectly happy for him to fly all he wanted. By himself.
But first, we were getting engaged — or so I hoped. Possibly tonight. On Valentine's.
I can't tell you how I knew, exactly. I'd just sensed it all day, somehow, the way you can sense it's going to rain. By the time I buckled in beside him in his Jeep, I was certain.
I'd known Chip a long time. We'd been dating for three years. I knew every expression in his repertoire and every angle of his body. I knew when he was faking a laugh, or when he was bullshitting. I could tell in seconds if he liked a person or not. And I certainly knew when he was hiding something — especially something he was excited about. Even though this date seemed exactly like every other date we'd ever had, I just knew something big was about to happen.
I figured he'd take us to the Italian place with the twinkle lights where we'd had our first date. But, instead of heading for downtown, he turned toward the freeway and ramped up.
The top was off his Jeep. I clamped my arms down over my hair. "Where are we going?" I called.
He called back, "It's a surprise!"
My stomach dropped at that. Once again, I knew Chip's intentions without his even hinting. This was kind of a problem with us. I could read him too well. He wasn't taking me to dinner. He was taking me to the airport.
* * *
TWENTY MINUTES LATER, we had left the city of Austin far behind. He pulled up the parking brake beside an airplane hangar at a private airfield in the middle of nowhere.
I looked around. "You can't be serious."
He leaned in. "Are you surprised?"
"Yes and no."
"Just pretend. Just once, I'd like to surprise you."
"Fine. I'm shocked. I'm awed."
"Don't pretend that much."
He came around to my side and took me by the hand, and then he pulled me behind him, bent over all sneaky, around to the far side of the hangar.
I followed him in a state of cognitive dissonance — knowing exactly what he was doing while insisting just as clearly that he couldn't possibly be doing it. "Are you sneaking me in here?" I whispered.
"It's fine. My friend Dylan did it with his girlfriend last week."
I tugged back against his hand. "Chip. I can't!"
"Sure you can."
"Is this — illegal?"
"I just want to show you my plane."
"It's not your plane, buddy."
I had zero interest in seeing his plane. Less than zero. I was interested in wine and appetizers and candlelight. I almost had the job of my dreams! I wanted to be celebrating. I was in the mood to feel good, not bad. "Can't we just go to dinner?" He peered around, then turned back to me. "Anybody can go to dinner."
"I'm cool with being anybody."
Then, with a coast-is-clear shrug, he pulled me out across the pavement and stopped in front of a little white Cessna. It looked like the kind of plane you'd see in a cartoon — wings up high, body below, and a spinny little propeller nose. Very patriotic, too. Red, white, and blue stripes.
"Cute," I said with a nod, like, Great. We're done.
But he took my shoulders and pointed me toward the cockpit.
I took a step back. "What are you doing?"
"Let's go for a ride."
"I'm afraid to fly. Remember?"
"Time to get over that."
"I'll throw up. I'll be motion-sick."
"Not with me, you won't be."
"It's not about you. It's about flying."
"You just need the right pilot."
I was shaking my head — half disbelief, half refusal. "You're not even certified."
"I'm as good as certified. I've done everything there is."
"Except take the test."
"But the test is just to see what you've already learned."
"Margaret? Yes. And right now before they catch us."
The force of his insistence was almost physical, like a strong wind you have to brace against. He wanted to do this. He wanted me to do this — to show faith in him, to believe in him. It wasn't a test, exactly, but it was still something I could fail.
I wasn't a person who failed things.
I was a person who aced things.
It felt like a big moment. It felt draped in metaphorical significance about bravery, and trust, and adventurousness — like it would reveal something essential about who I was and how I'd live the rest of my whole life. Saying no to flying right now suddenly felt like saying no to every possibility forever. Did I want to be a person who let minuscule statistical risks undermine any sense of bravery? Was this a challenge I couldn't rise to? Was I going to let fear make me small?
I'm not sure I ever really had a choice. Chip was Chip. He was my perfect man, and I'd thought so ever since his parents moved in next door to my parents, back when we were both in college. Our mothers became best next-door-neighbor friends, drinking wine on the patio and gossiping, but I only saw him on vacations. In the summers, his dad made him mow the lawn, and I'd stand at our window and watch. One time, my mom urged me to take him out a bottle of water, and he glugged the whole thing down in one swoop. I still remember it in slow-mo.
But I really didn't know him at all until we both wound up at business school together back home in Austin by accident. I was team leader of our study group, and he worked under me, which was good for him.
That's how we fell in love.
I'd have married him that first night we kissed, if he'd asked me. He was that kind of guy. Tall, clean-shaven, blond, all-American, high-achieving, confident. And dreamy. People did what he wanted. I felt lucky to be with him, and I'd doodled "Margaret Dunbar" more times than I'll ever admit. I once Googled dog breeds for our future pet. And one night, when shopping for something else — I swear — on the Home Depot website, I clicked on a little pop-up box for wood fence pickets. Just to see how much they were.
Now we were both out of school with our brand-new MBAs, both about to start our new jobs — Chip as an entry-level financial analyst at an investment bank, a job he found through a friend of his dad, and me as a business development manager for an oil and gas company called Simtex Petroleum. His job was good, but mine was far better, and I thought it was sporting of him, and rather gallant, to be so happy for me.
In truth, I wasn't even qualified for my new job. It required "five years of experience in the sector," "advanced knowledge of bidding for commercial contracts," and actual "international experience," none of which I had — but my B-school mentor had gone out on a limb for me, calling in a favor from a friend and writing a stunning letter of recommendation that called me a "fiercely energetic forward thinker, a problem solver, an excellent communicator, and a team player with strong business and financial acumen."
I'd laughed when he'd showed me the job listing. "I'm not remotely qualified for this."
"People get jobs they're not qualified for all the time."
I stared at the description. "They want 'demonstrated strategic and higher operational level engagement with the logistics environment.'"
"You're a shoo-in."
"I'm a joke."
"Now you're just thinking like a girl."
"I am a girl."
"We need to remedy that."
I gave him a look.
"When you go to this interview, I want you to pretend to be a man."
I closed my eyes. "Pretend to be a man."
"A badass man," he confirmed. "A man who's not just qualified, but overqualified."
I shook my head at him.
"Qualifications," he said, "pale in the face of confidence."
"If you say so," I said. Though I didn't believe it for a second. I went into the interview that day fully expecting to be laughed out of the room. But I did what he told me to. I pretended like hell — if nothing else, to prove him wrong.
Then they offered me the job. Or, at least, as the HR guy walked me to the lobby, he touched my shoulder and said, "It's not official, but you've got it."
My starting salary was going to be 50K higher than Chip's — but my mother told me not to tell him that. The important thing was: We were beginning our lives. Things were falling into place.
And here, at the airfield, I didn't want to be the only thing that didn't.
Chip squeezed my hands. "You trust me, right?"
"Yes." Sort of.
Then he pulled me into a kiss — a manly, determined, all-this-can-be-yours kiss, digging his tongue into my mouth in a way that he clearly found powerful and erotic, but that I, given how the sheer terror of what I was about to do had iced my blood, was too numb to feel.
Then he swatted me on the butt and said, "Climb in."
What can I say? I did it.
But I'm telling you, my hands were shaking.
As I worked on hooking the shoulder strap, I gave myself a stern talking-to: This was the right thing to do. Wasn't that what love was, after all? Saying yes — not just when it was easy, but also when it was hard?
Of course, any analyst worth her degree could have easily made the exact opposite argument: that I should trust my gut, and I shouldn't let Chip push me into doing things I didn't want to do. That his lack of respect for my genuine discomfort in the face of his Top Gun fantasies did not bode well for our long-term prospects.
But I wasn't going there.
I was going flying.
Then he was next to me, buckling up and handing me a set of black headphones. I had that feeling you get once you've picked a roller coaster seat and clamped yourself in.
Chip immediately shifted into character as the pilot. He slid his aviator sunglasses on and pressed the headphone mic so close to his mouth that his lips brushed against it, and started speaking a language to the control tower so specialized, it was basically nonsense: "South Austin Clearance Delivery — Cessna Three Two Six Tango Delta Charlie with information Juliet — VFR to Horseshoe Bay cruising three thousand three hundred."
It sounded to me like he was pretending. Who talked like that? But the tower didn't agree. Crackling through the headphones came "Cessna Three Two Six Tango Delta Charlie — South Austin Clearance — squawk two three one four, departure frequency will be one two zero point niner."
Oh, shit. This was happening.
Chip checked instruments and dials, looking them over like a pro. He looked at ease. Capable. Trustworthy. Macho, too. And, dammit, yes: super cool.
"I already went through my safety checklist before I came to get you — twice," he said. His voice was crackly through the headphones, but he took my hand and squeezed. "Didn't want to give you time to change your mind."
But I was all in by this point. I'd made my choice. For better or worse, as they say.
So Chip turned his attention to bigger things.
Still in sexy-pilot mode, he spoke into the mic and gave another nonsense message to the tower, confirming that we were waiting for the runway. I'd never been in the cockpit of a plane before, and this plane was all cockpit. Technically, there were two seats behind us, but it felt like we were in a Matchbox car.
Another plane had to land before we could take off, and I studied the dashboard with all its knobs and dials and 'ometers. I pointed at it. "Isn't this kind of tall?" It was higher than my head. I could barely see over.
He nodded. "It's not like driving a car," he explained, "where it's all about what you see. Flying's more instrument based."
"You don't look out the windshield?"
"You do, but you're looking at the instruments and gauges just as much. It's half looking, half math."
The other plane touched down, slowed, and trundled past us. See? I said to myself. They survived. We revved up, Chip announced us again over the radio, and he started working the pedals to bring us into position. The blades on the propeller spun so fast they disappeared. The plane vibrated and hummed. I sat on my cold hands so I wouldn't squeeze them into fists.
"Please don't do any loop-de-loops or anything," I said then.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "How to Walk Away"
Copyright © 2018 Katherine Pannill Center.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I absolutely LOVED this book! As soon as I picked it up, I knew I was going to love it, and I was for right. I was pulled in immediately, and couldn't put the book down. I had to continue reading to know what was going to happen next. Margaret faces a life changing experience, that she never saw coming. Her life was perfect, and then in the blink of an eye that all changes. This book will challenge you to see what life could be like, if one thing goes wrong. All the characters in this book are so great, and their personalities are so realistic. It honestly feels like you're right there with them. The romance between Margaret and Ian was the sweetest, and does not go in the direction you would think. I can honestly say this was one of my top favorite books of this year.
When an unfortunate and devastating accident lands Margaret Jacobson in the hospital on what should be one of the happiest days of her life, everything she’s come to know changes in an instant. Now facing a long road to recovery, everything she’s known, even her relationships, are in a state of uncertainty. On the cusp of landing her dream job, about to be engaged to the man of her dreams, everything else in her life running as smoothly as possible, How to Walk Away shows the strength of family, finding love in unexpected places, and the possibility of finding happiness in the darkest of times. Every time I read a book labeled “chick lit”, I’m always reminded of how much I absolutely adore them. More often than not, they’re super quick reads that pack a lot of things into a short period of time. My very favorite part is unpacking all those “things”, right along with the characters. In How to Walk Away, Center confronts a myriad of emotional issues ranging from secrets that are enough to tear a family apart, to a once-solid relationship that’s slowly and painfully unraveling, to coming to terms that the word perfection is simply just that — a word, and trying to achieve it will always end in heartache. Center doesn’t hold back on almost breaking these characters, and there certainly isn’t any glossing over with the painful parts and more often than not, I found myself feeling those emotions right alongside Margaret. While the plot carried an air of predictability, the story itself and the characters were so darn compelling that it was so incredibly easy to overlook. And while much of the story is painful and heart-wrenching, there’s humor and romance that helps to balance out the dark. And the romance was equal parts sweet and sad with the right amount of angst to keep readers on their toes. In the end, How to Walk Away was such a delightful and charming read and one that shows that hope is always found in the unlikeliest of places. A perfect summer read, and certainly one that will make even the hardest of hearts melt a little.
Margaret is terrified of flying but her pilot boyfriend convinces her to go up with him one day. Then, they hit a freak storm and end up crashing- he survives without a scratch but she ends up paralyzed (don't worry- I’m not spoiling anything, you find this out almost right away in the book). How to Walk Away is about her recovery, the emotions she goes through while dealing with the aftermath of the accident, and her family’s struggle to overcome a big secret that comes out. There’s heartbreak, love, hope, comic relief, and a lot more. I loved the author’s style of writing and, although the ending was a little over the top, it was a very happy and romantic conclusion that left me feeling good!
This is one of those books that I was drawn to because of the synopsis - I had a feeling it was going to be the perfection emotional read that I needed. I was right, too - it was full of emotion and a plot that held on to me long after I finished reading the book. The characters in the book are some of the best I've read in a while - their personalities are so deep and they really come to life on the page. The author truly has a great appreciation for being able to write them so well, and I can't wait to read another book by them. If you are looking for a novel that has a lot of emotion behind it, this is definitely one that you will want to look into. The plot is well formed, the characters are amazing, and it has a fantastic writing style to keep you engaged. I received an ARC of this book after winning it from Bookish First.
I loved this story! Both main characters had to overcome obstacles!
The kind of book you're enjoying so much that you can't wait to finish it but at the same time will hate to see it end, author Katherine Center managed to such a feat in How to Walk Away. While as a disabled individual, I'm often disappointed by the way that popular culture portrays disabled characters as either saintly, pitiable, or evil, I was impressed by the way that Center creates a fully three dimensional heroine who goes through a wide range of emotions after surviving a horrific plane crash. And although on the surface, the thought of adding a romantic comedy subplot to the novel seemed way out of left field, because Center kept the protagonist so firmly grounded in reality, it wound up working really well. The second recent upbeat romance involving a disabled lead to be chosen as an official selection by Book of the Month alongside Helen Hoang's sexier title The Kiss Quotient, while some of the contrivances in How to Walk Away's final fifty or so pages move it into cliched romcom territory, it's such a sweet, well-earned finale that it's easy to forgive. A terrific disabled centric beach read, this one will walk away with your heart. Note: I would've given this one 4.5 stars if able.
I am so glad that this book was on the BookSparks summer reading challenge this year, as I am not sure if it would have landed on my reading pile otherwise. And that would have been the ultimate shame, because this is one of those books that stole my heart entirely. Margaret Jacobsen has it all - the dream job, the gorgeous fiancé so adores and a future that is shining bright. Until it all comes shattering down around her in a single, brutal moment. In the hospital she is forced to reconcile her new reality, while dealing with the fallout from the accident and navigating the complex world of the relationships in her life. This story is heartbreaking, inspiring, uplifting, devastating, hilarious, brutal and entirely, gorgeously human. I devoured this story - it captured my heart before I even knew what was happening. Any book that sparks a full on range of emotion in me is a huge winner, and this one had me laughing out loud (several times), and crying my eyes out (in devastation and pure joy), sometimes in the span of a few pages. Katherine Center has unreal talent in sharing a character with you in a way that resonates - Margaret felt as real to me as reading about myself, or reading about a close friend. The way she is trapped navigating something she never asked for is raw and real, and makes you want to reach into the pages to help fix this for her. I loved the mix of personalities in the characters throughout this story - they were all so dynamic and unique, and fit snugly into the story like puzzle pieces. I found myself just as invested in the stories of Ian, Kit, and Margaret's parents as I was in her story itself. Which means this is a magnificent read for me - I honestly wish there was a second book to this story. This is one of my top-recommended must reads for this summer. I cannot tell you enough how much this book surprised and delighted me, and I hope it does the same for you.
I absolutely adore this book! I love how it maintains a fun, lighthearted feel but also carries some weight. Though heartbreaking to read about a girl exactly my age hopeful to start her dreams of beginning her career after graduate school and getting engaged to her longterm boyfriend experience such a tragedy, it provides a lot of hope. Margaret demonstrates true strength as she heals not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. She reworks her goals and makes even better ones. Maybe she appreciates them more knowing what she had lost and what she had to do to get to the new places. The hospital setting gave a constant for most the story, and it all flowed so well. It kept me glued to the book in ecstasy.
Margaret has worked hard her whole life, following her mom's advice and doing everything by the rules, and is now exactly where she wants to be: unofficially hired for her dream job, owner of her dream condo, and with the ideal boyfriend who is about to propose to her. Then, she loses it all in an instant. Left with third degree burns and the possibility of never walking again, Margaret is told over and over again that her progress depends on her own will to get better. But how can she find inspiration when all of her plans, all of her dreams, her whole future, has been taken away from her? She will need the support of her family -- fraught with their own issues -- and her gruff, heart-of-stone (also totally tall, dark, Irish, and dreamy!) physical therapist to help her recover. What unfolds is a beautiful story of strength, courage, forgiveness, support, and love. As a member of BookishFirst, I earned enough points for a free ARC. How to Walk Away was the only title available at the time and the description sounded interesting, so I used my points to secure a copy. Then I let the book sit on my shelf for weeks. I am still kicking myself for waiting to read it. How to Walk Away is by far my favorite book this year! Each character has their flaws, yet each is incredibly likable (except for the fiance, of course), even Margaret's overbearing mother who may mean well but just can't seem to express it without sounding condescending. And Ian, who wouldn't love Ian? The beyond-handsome Irish physical therapist is every girl's dream, if only you can get past his tough, angry, stoic outer shell -- which of course Margaret does. Margaret is a great character, too. She is just the right amounts of self-pity, determination, strength, and vulnerability, making her the perfect protagonist. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters, laughed more times than I thought I would, found myself smiling more often than not, and was left inspired by each character's determination and love for one another. I can't wait to share this book with anyone who will listen. It is the perfect summer read!
I may have predicted quite a bit of the book but it didn’t matter! I didn’t want to put it down and loved the author’s writing style. I felt so many emotions while reading this book and I will just say I am not Team Chip...grrrrrr! A great read that gave me an awesome feeling as I closed my book and wondered who I should recommend it to next?! I definitely will be reading more from this author!
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book hit stores a month ago, and has received so much awesome press since its release. I regret that I did not read it sooner, but it quickly became my favorite book of 2018 thus far. Very reminiscent of Me Before You, only so much better, this book is certainly one of the feel-good beach reads for the summer. A “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” storyline that tugs at the heartstrings without making the mascara run, How to Walk Away will leave readers inspired and feeling a connection with Margaret and Ian long after the last page has been devoured. Kudos to Katherine Center for gifting readers with such a beautiful and heartwarming story that would surely be fit for the big screen!
This is the first book that I have read by this author and it definitely won’t be the last. Ms. Center has written a wonderful novel that touched my heart. She reaches down into your soul and elicits feelings you didn’t even know you had. I laughed, I cried. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I highly recommend this book. If you only read one book this year, How to Walk Away should be that book. Five Stars!
Thank you @stmartinspress for this free book to review. Margaret is on the cusp of having everything she's ever dreamed of, she has earned her degree, bought a townhouse, and she is in expectation of winning her dream job that she just interviewed for. And to top it all off, her picture perfect boyfriend, Chip, is about to propose. Chip has just learned to fly and wants to take Margaret up to celebrate her impending job offer and to propose. Margaret doesn't just hate to fly, she terrified of it. She's always worried about plane crashes. After alot of coaxing from Chip, she gets in the plane, but what should have been one of the best days of her life, takes a tragic turn, and her world is turned upside-down. What follows is Margaret's physical and emotional struggle to learn to live again. Moments of frustration, despair and determination make Margaret likeable and its easy to sympathize with her situation. If you've ever been knocked down and struggled to get up again, or raged when life hasn't gone as planned, you will enjoy this inspiring read. Its witty, charming, and a quick page turner. My only disappointment, was the occasional, needless crass language. My favorite quote: "When you dont know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else."
I was given the book to read by the publisher. It was hyped to be the next big beach read. The main character was starting out on her life's journey. Getting her dream job. On valentine's day her boyfriend took her out on a plane ride to show off his skills, which she is deathly afraid of flying. He asks for her hand in marriage and all goes downhill from there on. The plane has an accident and she is the only one that is hurt. Burns all over her body and legs paralyzed. He has a hard time facing her. Everything after that is very predictable. They break up, she falls for her therapist, she goes home and restarts her life. The rest of the book is about her family life and how they cope. I do not want to give everything away. It was a very enjoyable read.
Great story of recoveryl. The author puts you right in Margaret's head. I can see Richard Rankin playing the part of Ian Moffat in the screen adaptation.
How to Walk Away is an engaging story that inspires us all to make the best out of life - even when our situations are at their worst. Margaret Jacobsen is young, newly engaged to the love of her life, and is, quite literally, flying on top of the world. In a matter of seconds, all that changes and her life cartwheels out of control. What follows is her story of survival, reconciliation, and renewal that can teach us all a thing or three about what it really means to be strong, accepting, and generous. This is a story about purpose, family, and inner strength that will pull you in and motivate you to do something good afterward. The romance is subtle and endearing, and the characters are very nearly made flesh and bone. I would recommend this book to those of us who don't regularly read nonfiction, but who appreciate a good motivational novel that reads like a memoir. Katherine Center writes in a way that makes our sullen, broken main character appear strong and unbeatable in the face of giant obstacles. I laughed, I cheered, but I also cried, felt anger and pity. A good book will take you on a roller coaster of emotions, and I felt all of those hills and valleys while I read.
This story was a very quick read that was heart-breaking one moment and laugh out loud funny the next. Margaret Jacobsen has worked hard all of her life and was the perfect daughter. She has recently graduated, has landed an amazing job and is dating the love of her life, with the hope that he is going to engage that night, on Valentine's Day. Everything is turning out according to plan and she is sure that things are about to get even better. Unfortunately for Margaret, you never what is going to happen next, and her life is about to change forever. On what she believes to be the greatest day of her life, she makes a decision that quickly turns it into the worst day of her life. What would you do it your life was so changed that nothing was ever going to be the same? “How to Walk Away” was an amazing story that touched my emotions like few books do. There were so many great characters in the story, both great ones and ones that I am glad I never met in real life because I am not sure what I might have said or done. Margaret is such a great character. She behaved exactly as I thought anyone would in her situation. Her habit of filling quiet periods of time spent with others with strange but hilarious comments was just one of the things I loved about her. It was also where much of the humor came in. Her sister Kitty was also a wonderful character that was able to pull Margaret out of her funk several times and make Margaret and the reader laugh with her. Katherine Center writes with honesty and includes all of the tough, rotten and emotional parts. I do not understand how she could have written this story so realistically and not gone through it herself. It contained strained relationships and family secrets, problems in the workplace and jealousy. From Margaret's point of view, it was a story about strength, determination, love and more. The plot held my interest from start to finish and the characters captured my heart. There are so many great quotes in this book, but I will leave you with this one: “When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else” This is the first book I have read from this author, but you can bet it will not be my last. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read about real life. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
I enjoyed this book from start to finish!
This was really an enjoying inspirational read. It was somewhat predictable but I did enjoy it nonetheless. I liked the characters in this book - I found them to be believable. I certainly felt sorry for Margaret the main character who had to deal with a major life changing injury - however she was very inspiring in the way she handled her unfortunate circumstances. I also loved her sister Kit - I found her funny and entertaining and a lot of help to her sister in her time of need. This book is an excellent summer read and it is my first Katherine Center book to read but I plan to look for other books she has written. I really enjoyed this book it was a quick read that I just couldn't put down once I started it.
How to Walk Away became my top 2018 read quickly. I was captivated from the beginning to the very end. I am not sure if it’s the background of work I use to be in or what but I don’t think it makes a difference with how incredible this read truly is. This book is full of hope for a second chance at life in profound ways on different spectrums of life. It truly isn’t what happens to you that define you but how you choose to react to it. What I truly love with what this author chose to do with a story like this is not wrapping it up like a fairytale. Even though it’s a fiction, it’s a realistic one which I have always found to make a bigger impact on me personally. It’s emotional and raw and even though it sounds like a heavy read somehow it’s not quite that either because you will lots of uplifting moments and find yourself laughing or smiling. I don’t want to give too much away but it is definitely one read I highly recommend this year.
I found that this book was extremely predictable from the moment I cracked it open. Luckily for me, I loved every aspect of it. From the determined main character (Margaret), to the way the story flowed seamlessly. It was one of those oddly deep and light hearted books, you can rarely find. Margaret was one of the best characters I’ve ever read about. She was a determined, talkative, and slightly awkward character that you just can’t help but fall in love with. You really get to see how her emotions played out within herself throughout the book. Kitty was a great secondary character. She was funny, uplifting, and very relatable. There were also annoying, frustrating characters thrown in, and they definitely added to the story line. I honestly love the way the story went, and found myself really rooting for the main character in this one. I also love that there was a slight emphasis on physical therapy, since I studied to be a physical therapist assistant in college. I will absolutely be reading Katherine’s other novels!
Loved this book! I couldn’t put it down.
The story centers on Margaret and her recovery after she is in a plane crash, which was being flown by her fiancé. We learn about her life-altering injuries slowly in the days that follow the crash. Margaret has a close relationship with her parents but is estranged from her sister Kit. So it’s a surprise when Kit shows up at the hospital. Margaret is stubborn at first and doesn’t let her stay, but Kit is persistent. I liked seeing them reconnect and work through their issues. There were some secrets being kept and when those were brought to light, it brought more understanding to the situation. I do think the catalyst that caused Kit’s abrupt departure and long separation from the family was a little much. Maybe it was just the fact that it was surprising that makes me have this opinion. I’m not sure. I was really surprised by her dad’s actions and the fact he didn’t think about helping Margaret once she was home. It’ll make more sense when you read the book, and I can understand his reasoning, but he is so close and supportive of his daughter, I was surprised he wouldn’t take her well-being into consideration. He seemed like the solid rock of the family, and maybe that’s why it felt out of character for him to leave like he did. But under the circumstances, I can understand. I know there has been some controversy with the main relationship in this book. That it is unethical. I mean, this is not a difference of opinions. It is technically unethical and against the rules. But that’s not why I had a problem with it. Ian was so rude to Margaret for so long and then when he wasn’t, he was trying to convince her she didn’t love him. That her feelings were due to what she went through. I have a problem with both of these things. Women have believed and been told for far too long that when a boy or man is mean to you, it means he likes you. I’m calling BS. If you like someone, no matter if it’s a romantic connection or not, you are nice to them. If you don’t know how to express your feelings, and it comes out as being rude or mean, talk to someone. Don’t continue hurting the person you supposedly like. Secondly, and this has been going on since the dawn of time, men (and women) don’t believe women when they say something. Why is it so difficult to believe a women when she says she’s angry (‘no sweetie, maybe you’re just hungry’), or when she says someone hurt her (‘well, how much did you drink? What were you wearing? What did you say to piss them off?’), and in this case, when the woman says she loves someone (‘no, that’s just because you almost died. You don’t know you’re own feelings.’). Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but you know, I’m allowed to feel that way. I also had a difficult time believing Ian in the end due to his previous behavior and actions in the book. And I really really wanted to like him. I did at some points. There just wasn’t enough nice and courteous Ian to outweigh the mean and rude Ian for me. I did like watching Margaret through her recovery and seeing how even though she’d fall back or get discouraged, she’d eventually find a way to push through. I liked Kit and Margaret’s relationship and seeing how they were able to repair it after all those years. Overall it was a fine book. It wouldn’t not suggest someone read it (sorry for the double negative). It’s an easy read and there were some things I liked about it. It just wasn’t a favorite.
I received an arc of How to Walk Away from netgalley. Maggie was a young woman on the cusp of getting everything she wanted in life until one fateful day. She has to learn to navigate a life that is in stark contrast she imagined. She learns that life may not turn out the way you want but a strong person will find one that suits them. It is a story of great adversity that leads to a new found happiness.
Wow, the first of the book did not even give me a clue what a state it would put me and my emotions in. What a plot, what a great cast of characters, and best quotes ever , and come backs, some humorous and some ill humored but all spot on. And oh the secret and how it comes out, you have to be there for that, and oh yes the love story, it had not just Margaret in angst, I was right there with her.