I have mixed feelings about The Art of Letting Go by Anna Bloom. I wanted to really like it but it did not pull me in as I expected. Let me tell you why.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
For Lilah McCannon, life has taken a bit of a wrong turn. Engaged to a guy she is not in love with and stuck in a job with her tyrannical father as her boss, life has definitely not turned out the way she expected.
At twenty-five years old, Lilah knows that she has a simple choice: live the life she has created or change it.
Enrolling on a course at the local University, Lilah sets out with some clear rules to ensure her success at being a grown-up. No alcohol, no cigarettes, no boys, and no going home. But the last thing she anticipates is meeting Ben Chambers, the lead singer of a local band. With Ben, it’s instant, it’s hot, and it’s deep, but when Ben is offered the opportunity of a lifetime and it looks like his future lies on a different path to hers, Lilah has some heart-rending decisions to make.
With the academic year slipping by too quickly, Lilah faces a barrage of new challenges. Will she ever make it up the library stairs without having a heart attack? Can she handle a day on campus without drinking vodka? Will she ever manage to read a history book without falling asleep? Most of all, will she be able to make the ultimate sacrifice and learn The Art of Letting Go?
The Art of Letting Go tells the story of Delilah “Lilah” McCannon and how she struggled to find herself and discover what she really wants to do with her life. She's twenty-five years old, engaged to a man she doesn't love, working a job she doesn't want, and basically living a life that she's not sure she's meant to have. She's on the fast track to nowhere. Sure, from an observer's point of view, she's got an idyllic life but it all feels hollow to Lilah. She's tired of her life so she decides to take back what little control she does have and quits her job. Even more impulsively, she runs away and decides to go to Uni.
Once there, she gave herself four rules to follow.
1. No alcohol
2. No cigarettes
3. No boys
4. No going home
I guess it's safe to say that these rules didn't last very long. It's actually pretty funny to see Lilah's VAIN attempt to keep those rules, because damn, that girl can't exercise self-control to save her life. What really made Uni life for Lilah complicated was Rule #3. And cue angsty romance plot device.
On the year's Fresher's Ball, Lilah finds herself attracted to the hot lead singer of the band playing. And whaddya know? He has been interested in Lilah even before they met at Uni. It turns out that Ben Chambers, hot lead singer extraordinaire, first met Lilah during an office party from Lilah's old job.
As attracted they are to each other, Lilah tries to put some distance between her and Ben. Not only is it against her rules, but she's also about to be married. Remember how I told you how Lilah sucks at self-control? Well, her attempt to distance herself from Ben? Didn't happen. Nope.
That's one of the things that I didn't like about the book. After a few chapters, I got tired of the whole back and forth she's got going with Ben. I mean, it went on and on and on for around 80% of the book. I honestly just wanted Lilah to get over herself. It's either she wants him or she doesn't. She's as fickle as the weather. Add that to the fact that Lilah's got the maturity of a hormonal teenager. She's twenty-five, for goodness' sakes. She's bullheaded and kind of annoying but at the same time, I can't help but relate to her. I can identify with Lilah in a lot of ways and I guess that's one of her redeeming qualities as a character. As difficult as she is, Lilah is the embodiment of many young adults out there. She trying to figure out what she really wants to do with her life at the same time juggling all the responsibilities and expectations thrust upon her. So as much as I want to give up on Lilah, I was also curious to know how she handles everything eventually.
She loses. She learns. She loves. And what a very complicated love it was. Just as she was finally beginning to figure out stuff between her and Ben, fate throws a wrench in their happily ever after… well, maybe not a wrench. I think a whole toolbox would be more accurate. It took her a while but Lilah found a way to let go. It's just that, Lilah realizes something…
“I have learnt the art of letting go.
But I have let go of the wrong thing.”
“Oh, yes, that's right. I have been on a complete mental breakdown that has involved stalking, obsessing, crying, being drunk, being sober, being drunk again, and generally acting like I have the mental maturity of a sixteen-year-old.”
I guess part of the reason why it went too slow is the way it was written. The Art of Letting Go felt a lot like reading Lilah's diary. It was an ALMOST day-to-day account of her life from September to June. I commend the author for putting that much thought on everything that Lilah and her friends were up to. I just don't think it worked though. There were a lot of downtimes that the book could've done away with.
So, bottomline is, even though I could have learned to like the story, the pacing and the storytelling still leaves something to be desired.