Seven Days of Us

Can we all agree up front that reading a Christmas-themed book during the summer is THE BEST?

Okay, now that we have that out of the way..

"Seven Days of Us" has a few things going for it right out of the gate: Christmas time and a solid setting (old, weathered English estate, anyone?). It also has the benefit of a British author, which in my book is always a good thing. There's a certain tone to British books that totally appeals to me. 

Christmas traditions come up a lot in the book, and as I sat down to share my thoughts about my reading experience, the idea of traditions carried over to what I will share here. Hornak has written a story that delivers many of the traditional components of a novel about a family: difficult/distanced dad, kind if not overbearing mom, two daughters (one smart and serious, one flaky and immature). There is the big secret waiting to reveal itself and change their lives forever, there is the force of nature that causes them to live together in confinement (in this case, in quarantine), there is...well, you get the idea.

So the truth is, this novel isn't going to reinvent the wheel. But isn't that okay? You know you love these stories. You know you drop them into your Amazon cart before you've finished the back flap description. I know I do.

I genuinely loved pieces of this book. The author is a very good writer. She has a way of using words that made me reread paragraphs over just to enjoy them. That is a wonderful thing in and of itself. I also thought that, while so much of the plot followed expected form, there were a few moments that totally surprised me. 

The part that I struggled with was that I just didn't love the majority of the characters. I need to want to root for someone. The mother, Emma, was lovable. She was the redemption in the midst of a crew that didn't seem to care a whole lot about the effect their actions had on others. This was definitely meant to be a story of redemption, but even in the redemption, I didn't trust these people. I just felt like the manner of their failures revealed character flaws so deep that the redemption wasn't terribly satisfying. 

Lastly, the lone American in the story is likable, but I struggled with all the stereotypes packed into his character, and it made it hard for me to take him seriously. Using "like" all the time, being vegan, practicing deep breathing and yoga, obsessing about Whole Foods Market, being overly friendly with or two are okay, but all piled on, it became a bit much.

That big old dump of negatives really isn't fair, though. This book is a fun read, a fast read, and if you love the holidays like I do, delivers a truly satisfying representation of a family holiday. 

Read this book if: You love British lit, holiday lit, or just are in the mood for a book that is the print equivalent of a "The Family Stone"-style holiday film.

Don't read this book if: You want to be bowled over by a new concept. Also, this really pushed the boundaries of what I accept in terms of language and general racy content from books. I find this to be fairly common in British lit, but still found it disappointing.