The half of it A novel

Juliette Fay

Book - 2023

"When 58-year-old Helen Spencer reviews her life, what she sees are the mistakes. Over the years, things seemed to go sideways incrementally, one little wrong decision at a time. She can even pinpoint where it all started to go awry: a wonderous, romantic night in the woods her senior year of high school with a boy named Cal Crosby. A night she would soon work hard to forget. Forty years, one marriage, three children, and one grandbaby later, suddenly there he is--Cal Crosby!--right in front of her with grandchildren of his own in tow. The chance to finally get some answers and sort out what happened is within reach. But Helen would much prefer to keep that night and all the fury, hurt, and sorrow that followed tightly locked away wher...e she doesn't have to face it. Cal Crosby, however, is ready to talk. He has no idea of the can of worms he's about to open"--

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Romance fiction
New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2023]
Main Author
Juliette Fay (author)
First edition
Physical Description
374 pages ; 21 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

After suffering multiple losses during COVID, including the death of her husband, 58-year-old Helen Spencer moves to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law and their brand-new baby. Settling into a new routine where she watches her grandchild several days a week, she is absolutely stunned to come face-to-face with Cal "f*cking" Crosby, who broke her heart in high school. Helen and Cal were friends on the path to becoming high-school sweethearts when one night changed everything. Now, 40 years later, they must confront the choices they made in the past and determine if they can forgive each other and open their hearts again. As the story moves back and forth between the present day and the 1970s, readers get a full picture of Helen and Cal and how they have come to live the lives they have. This tender novel explores regret, loss, and hope with humor and plenty of heart. Recommended for fans of heartwarming and moving relationship fiction and authors such as Kristan Higgins, Katherine Heiny, and Amy Poeppel.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A woman finds closure 40 years after being betrayed by her first love in this lukewarm tale of forgiveness and redemption from Fay (Catch Us When We Fall). In 1981, 18-year-old Helen Spencer had what she believed to be a romantic first time with Cal Crosby, only for Cal to return to his girlfriend, leaving Helen with a ruined reputation and chlamydia. Cal has spent decades regretting his actions, and when he sees Helen again, he's desperate to make amends. Now a widow, Helen is ready to let go of the past, and even musters empathy for Cal who, having made work his priority over the years, has reluctantly agreed to an open marriage with his wife. Through alternating timelines, readers learn Helen and Cal's unsurprising history: they were simply too young to understand the possible consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, Fay's handling of sexually transmitted infections feels overwrought and somewhat stigmatizing. Much better done is the present timeline, in which the duo embarks on a friendship as fellow grandparents, often meeting up for playdates and thereby raising concerns with their adult children who spot their lingering love. This tepid second-chance romance has a shaky foundation, but the deep connection between the protagonists rings true. Agent: Stéphanie Abou, Massie & McQuilkin. (Apr.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Newly widowed and recently relocated, Helen Spencer sits with her sleeping granddaughter in the picturesque New England woods counting her many regrets. While ruminating on the wasted years spent living away from her parents and not salvaging her relationship with her best friend Francie, a toddler bursts into her path followed by his grandfather. Helen is shocked to realize that the little boy's grandfather is her childhood friend Cal Crosby. Decades ago, a disastrous night split their friendship and wiped out any vestiges of young love, setting them on different courses and destroying their bright hopes for the future. Faced with the prospect of rekindling their feelings for each other, Helen and Cal must overcome their own fears, self-doubt, and family complications or be alone without each other again. VERDICT Best-seller Fay (Catch Us When We Fall) presents a touching story of friendship, love, and forgiveness with relatable characters managing the emotional challenges of daily life. Fans of Anna Quindlen who enjoy expressive stories of human connection will enjoy this novel.--Joy Gunn

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