Review – “The Overdue Life of Amy Byler” by Kelly Harms

What makes you buy a book? Ratings and reviews? Cover? Blurb? Author? Or like me, all of these and the most important that any bibliophile can relate to, price. So keeping up with my broke self, I bought The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms while browsing through the ebooks on Amazon under the 50 bucks section. LOL yeah. I bought it for just that much!
As the name suggests, the story follows Ms. Byler as she gets ready to meet her life, especially the parts of it that were too overdue to ignore any further.

I have been driving my life with my body. Trying somehow to carry my worries and sorrows and insecurities on my shoulders, as though I could wad up all the hurt and fear I’ve felt since John moved out, stuff it in a backpack, and hike through life with it.

After years of being together with John, Amy finds herself all alone when he suddenly bails on her and their kids. A fat-ass maintenance house with a mortgage, school fees, and no job leaves her distraught until she pulls herself up and lands as a librarian in her kids’ school, which although doesn’t pay much, helps her keep afloat.
Cut to 3 years later. John is standing on her doorstep, asking to spend some time with the kids he once abandoned and seeking forgiveness. After a family meeting of 3, she reluctantly, and her kids decide to give their absentee father a chance, a weekend where Amy is supposed to spend some time with her friend in NY while daddy takes up the reins. What was meant to be a weekend thing soon threatens to engulf their whole summer, this time with the kids siding up with their now indulging father.
As much as she’d like to go back into the arms of her sad yet comfortable life as a single mom and librarian, Amy finds herself selfishly enjoying the time off from everything after what feels like an eternity. On her Momspringa, with her wingmen beside her, Amy readies herself to take over the librarian world by storm. But what she wasn’t anticipating was the storm brewing in her heart for that fellow single hot librarian, and the storm back home that would test everything that she found again in NY.

Despite what I said bout the pricing, in the beginning, I must admit that I bought this book for other reasons as well. That being, it seemed to hit too close to home. Yes, all of you who are reading this and are primary caregivers of their kids, would understand when I say that it is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Unpaid, unacknowledged, and thankless. Now team it with being the primary breadwinner as well, well, that’d make it for you. Jokes apart, this book will find takers in many.
Amy is the epitome of sacrifice. A martyr wife of a wayward husband and an overdoing mother of her kids. There is practically nothing else that can be used to describe her. Even as a librarian, she is more worried about her daughter’s class’s reception of her than her own growth as an educationalist. And her daughter Cori? Smarter than her 15 years, she is more interested in ripping her father off for his absence while her 12 years old brother Joe just wants to go to science camps and do what his mom can’t do with him, boy stuff and all. Then there is John, the returned absconding father, who simply doesn’t know what he wants from his family whom he abandoned. There is a prevailing sense of confusion, and hardly any character development. But I like Lena, she is probably the only sane and logical voice in this Mom-Com, the mom version of a romcom, LOL. I would have loved more of the hot male librarian and Amy’s chemistry, but without the corny stuff. As a rom-com, there is chaos, more chaos, some mushy romance, and even more chaos until the heroine finds a way to put everything back together. You would find the story predictable, know for sure how it is going to end but you may still read it for the sheer fun of it.
The story is a reality check for caregivers, most of whom are mothers. As mothers, we forget what it was like to have time for ourselves before the kids. Our identities become limited to being a mother unless we make a conscious effort to do something for our own selves and while we try to take some time out for this, we tend to take a guilt trip to blame kingdom where we are the culprit, we are the judge, and we are the executioner.
Written lucidly, the only thing I despised that the story begins as an emotionally charged reality of Amy and many others like her, which soon turns into cribbing. It could have taken a different, more approachable route, but cribbing was all that is done. Cribbing because her husband left, that she has to take care of everything herself, she is a single parent and doesn’t have any time to herself. Then cribbing when her husband reappears asking her to take a break, that she can’t take a break because she feels guilty of leaving her kids (who are not exactly solely dependent on her) and ultimately finding herself torn between her wants and duties, and confusing them. Every caregiver of a child feels the same, but one has to draw a line somewhere and not keep running in circles. Nevertheless, it is a fun ride one time that Amy takes us on. One which will infuriate us and make us howl with laughter together. And I wasn’t going to DNF my 50 bucks 😛

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