Title: New Year, New You
Author: Steve Pacer
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 268 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
At a Glance: I’m so glad I read this one. The writing is solid, and for the most part the story is well-crafted and engaging. The one major plot point did keep me from giving it five stars, but I would still recommend it. Excellent first novel.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Expectations are never realistic. Outcomes often fail to meet objectives. Wishes rarely come true.
None of that has ever stopped Abram Hoffman from meeting every goal he’s ever set. In a world full of constants—his pace per mile, daily caloric intake, number of isolated bicep curls—the balance of Abe’s delicately crafted life topples when his childhood best friend Cassie Montgomery unexpectedly moves back home with her new boyfriend, Jared, whose lingering touches and ambiguous actions make Abe question his true intentions. To top it off, Abe’s ex, Harris McGee, also makes a sudden splash back into Abe’s life.
As each of them suffer through life’s obstacles, they are forced to face the fact that control isn’t always an option and words, whether true or false, can’t always save you. Set in Buffalo, New York, NEW YEAR, NEW YOU deals with life and death—and the love that flourishes in between—told from three powerful perspectives.
Review: Sometimes life doesn’t happen the way we plan for it to. Abe Hoffman didn’t plan to still be single at almost thirty-three years old, wandering numbly through his daily routine; Clare Montgomery didn’t plan on living out her twilight years alone, and certainly didn’t expect her own cancer diagnosis just a year after losing her husband; and Harris McGee didn’t see any of his misfortunes coming either. We all deal with unexpected events, whether they be simple deviations from our path, or full-scale tragedies. It’s how we handle life’s detours that really shape us and show who we are.
Steve Pacer’s debut novel, New Year, New You is a beautifully crafted story revolving around three intertwined lives, all at monumental points in their life journey. Aside from one quibble I have with part of the storyline, I loved what the author did with this book. The three alternating viewpoints added another dimension to the story, which I thought worked so well. I also loved the setting and how he basically made Buffalo another star in the book. Harris’s work with Beautify Buffalo and his passion for the East Side Renaissance project were fascinating. That passion gets him into a bit of trouble when we first meet him in the story, though, and he finds himself in the middle of a social media scandal, and out of a job. Out of options for a place to get away from the spotlight, he realizes the one person he wants to see is “the one person who had never let him down.” Abram Hoffman
I loved Abe. Mostly. Heh. But, more about that later… I really did love Abram. And, I LOVED him and Harris together. Which…ok… I actually need to talk about the thing now rather than later… As the blurb tells us, part of the story deals with Abe’s best friend Cassie returning home to Buffalo with her boyfriend. We are told that Jared, the boyfriend, is a wonderful, handsome, charming guy who anyone would be lucky to have in their life. I NEVER saw that on page. On page, I saw Jared ruffle Clare’s (Cassie’s mom) feathers, carry on an inappropriate relationship with Abe, and mess with Cassie’s heart. Jared was a jerk. Period. I strongly disliked the storyline with Abe and Jared and disliked the person Abe became around Jared. I hated how needy and weird he was with regard to him. In my opinion, the stuff with Jared detracted from an otherwise amazing book. Abe and Harris were the real love story here, and I feel like their relationship was cheapened by the Jared distraction. Phewww…I feel better having gotten that off my chest!
Harris was also a fantastic character. He goes through a LOT in the beginning of the story, but also has one of the most powerful and meaningful transformations. I loved the unexpected friendship he and Clare forged, and everything he did for her. In fact, I loved and respected him more and more as the story progressed. And, I adored how he felt about Abe and their history together.
Sitting next to Abe made him feel like a grown adult. Like a man. Abe motivated him to be a better person, to say what he was thinking, to strive to be his healthiest self. How one person could produce those goals in him, Harris couldn’t comprehend. He only explicitly understood making things right between them was a duty he had to carry out.
And, finally, we have the beautiful, strong, resilient Clare Montgomery. I loved everything about Clare. She was a giving and wonderful spirit, and even though the author put her through her paces, I loved where he took her. Clare is the glue to the whole thing. She sees everyone for who they are and what they need, and does whatever she can to help. And, she’s a champ at dealing with her daughter, who, to be honest, came off as sort of a spoiled brat through much of the book. I loved, loved Cassie’s friendship with Abe. Best friends since first grade is a bond as strong as steel. When Cass and Abe were in best friend mode, they were great. I just wish I had liked Cassie more as an individual.
I’m so glad I read this one. The writing is solid, and for the most part the story is well-crafted and engaging. The one major plot point did keep me from giving it five stars, but I would still recommend it. Excellent first novel. I hope we see a lot more from Mr. Pacer!
You can buy New Year, New You here:
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