BOOK REVIEW ~ DEAR EMILY BY TRUDY STILES

Adoption. Is it a choice you could make? For yourself? For your unborn child?
Live this heart wrenching story with both Carly and Tabitha. Carly and her husband desperately want a child of their own, but are unable to make that dream their reality. Tabitha has been through unspeakable things and must make one of the most difficult decisions a scared and pregnant girl can make.
Dear Emily is told in dual point of view, allowing the reader to experience the highs and lows of both Carly and Tabitha and the decision that ultimately brings them together.
Take a chance on these two very different, but incredible women.
*******Two women. Carly and Tabitha. They each have suffered life-altering events that have left them both traumatically damaged.
Carly Sloan’s life was perfect until her security and innocence was torn from her. The vast repercussions from these events threaten to destroy her stability and her chances for a happily ever after. Kyle Finnegan comes into Carly’s life at the height of her turmoil. Can he help her find what she desires most?
Tabitha Fletcher has constantly suffered from a very young age. She has been hiding from her past, which was full of sadness, loss and abuse. She has been so brutally damaged that she has very little hope for redemption. The revolving door of men only leads her deeper into misery.
What circumstance brings these two women together and can they help each other heal? And will they each find what they need?
Redemption.Love.Family.

This is one of the most unputdownable and unforgettable books I’ve read this year! I’m ashamed to say it’s not a story I would’ve read at first glance and I’d never have picked it up if it weren’t for a few friends who absolutely adored it and now…I can definitely see why. The story follows two women who are the main characters – Tabitha and Carly – and their individual lives and romances, and how one child brings them together. It’s a story not just about love, but family, friendships, and fate. The way the book is written is especially unique; with alternating POVs between Carly and Tabitha that sometimes jump back and forth in time, I really expected to be frustrated and turned off by the execution but quite the opposite happened. I adored the way the story unfolded and it felt like I was reading two books in one. Even more so, I’m amazed by how invested I was (still am) in both Carly and Tabitha’s lives, even when they hadn’t met each other yet. The author’s writing style is simplistic in an alluring and captivating way, gripping me from the VERY first page and ended the book with such a bang that I need to dive into the next one asap.

The premise of the story is a crisis that many women face today – adoption. In this case, an emotionally damaged and confused teenaged Tabitha prepares to give up her unborn child Emily to another couple who she feels is more qualified and will provide Emily with a stable family environment – to Carly and her college sweetheart Kyle. When the adoption agency links her up with Carly and Kyle, Tabitha and her current boyfriend Seth feel a kinship towards them and believes what they’re doing is the right thing as they’re both in no way ready to take on raising a child.
Here’s the really cool part. While the present focuses on working out the adoption details and seeing Tabitha and Carly interact and get to know each other better, the flashbacks to the past reveal painful scars both women have been carrying around for years and how their ordeals lead them to find love and get to where they are currently. It’s one of the most unique storytelling methods I’ve ever read that not only made me feel invested in both of these women and their individual tales, but also had me flipping the pages so fast just so I could devour more about these characters. The men in their lives that stood by them and were a pillar of support I could not be more grateful or love more, and it was so inspiring and heartwarming to know that these two women who were in dark times in their respective lives, had at least one person they could shoulder their burden with.
I also can’t forget to mention what an amazing cast of side characters were in this book. They were so supportive and a never-ending source of comical relief as the overall tone of the story is emotionally heavy.
There is, however, one thing that bothered me a lot while I was reading and is the reason why I can’t give this book a full 5 star rating. I am a grammar and punctuation Nazi and though it may not be a big deal for most, seeing tons of exclamation marks in the story drove me nuts. Sentences that could’ve easily ended in a period had a !. Sentences where the meaning didn’t convey much emotion ended with !. It may just be me being picky but it’s a pet peeve of mine to have too much of one thing.
Other than that, this story was perfect in my eyes. Emotionally, it struck deep and I teared up a few times. The words on the page demanded to be read and felt, and whenever I was forced to put down the book because of holiday festivities I was internally screaming.
While I felt like one arc of the book was wonderfully concluded, another part still had many loose ends, which is where book 2 comes in and I’m both nervous and excited to see where and how Tabitha’s story goes. Now that I know this author’s writing style and the way she presents her story, I’m sure the second book just promises angst, tears, second chances, and redemption.
It was plain dumb for me to keep this on my TBR for so long, though I am glad now that I at least gave it a shot or I would’ve missed out on one heck of a story. For anyone else contemplating on reading this one, I highly recommend you bump it to the top of your TBR list.
Dear Emily is the first book in the Forever Family series and not a standalone. Because there are two main female leads and only one of their stories is concluded here, book 2 must be read to fully wrap up both story arcs presented. There will be a third book, but it’s an optional spinoff.
Rating: 4.5 stars!!