Closer to Okay

- Amy Watson

Goodreads Book Blurb:

Weaving culinary delights with an honest, appraising look at how we deal with the world when it becomes too much, Closer to Okay is the comfort food we all need in these, well, crazy times.

Kyle Davies is doing fine. She has her routine, after all, ingrained in her from years of working as a baker: wake up, make breakfast, prep the dough, make lunch, work the dough, make dinner, bake dessert, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a good routine. Comforting. Almost enough to help her forget the scars on her wrist, still healing from when she slit it a few weeks ago; that she lost her job at the bakery when she checked herself in as an inpatient at Hope House; then signed away all decisions about her life, medical care, and wellbeing to Dr. Booth (who may or may not be a hack). So, yeah, Kyle’s doing just fine.

Except that a new item’s been added to her daily to-do list recently: stare out her window at the coffee shop (named, well…The Coffee Shop) across the street, and its hot owner, Jackson. It’s healthy to have eye candy when you’re locked in the psych ward, right? Something low risk to keep yourself distracted. So when Dr. Booth allows Kyle to leave the facility–two hours a day to go wherever she wants–she decides to up the stakes a little more. Why not visit? Why not see what Jackson’s like in person?

Turns out that Jackson’s a jerk with a heart of gold, a deadly combination that Kyle finds herself drawn to more than she should be. (Aren’t we all?) At a time when Dr. Booth delivers near-constant warnings about the dangers of romantic entanglements, Kyle is pulled further and further into Jackson’s orbit. At first, the feeling of being truly taken care of is bliss, like floating on a wave. But at a time when Kyle is barely managing her own problems, she finds herself suddenly thrown into the deep end of someone else’s. Dr. Booth may have been right after all: falling in love may be the thing that sends Kyle into a backslide she might never be able to crawl out of. Is Jackson too much for her to handle? Does love come at the cost of sanity?

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My Review:

***Thanks to NetGalley and Alcove Press for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.

solid, good read:
4/5
Closer to Okay is an honest portrayal of mental illness and the struggle to forge a new life after a suicide attempt.

It is very easy to connect to Kyle; she wants to do everything right, to commit to feeling and getting better, but it can be difficult to trust that others are looking out for her. Which, in this case, is fair; Dr Booth is a very untrustworthy person with a lot of control over Kyle and the other residents of Hope House. Every decree of his made my skin crawl, and I felt so sorry for all these residents under his rule. Regardless of how cruel or seemingly pointless his decisions are, Kyle follows them to the best of her ability, all in an attempt to earn back her independence.

Is there a better match than a baker and a coffee shop owner? I loved the chemistry between Kyle and Jackson. From day one, Jackson is very understanding of Kyle’s situation. Unfortunately, he pushes a little too far too fast, and Kyle – with a lot of pressure from Dr Booth – has to put her recovery first. I have a lot of respect for Kyle submitting to the process, even when it was questionable – it’s definitely not something I would be able to do.

Complicated and messy, Closer to Okay addresses formerly taboo subjects with candour. One story could never represent everyone’s experience with mental illness, but this narrative does a good job of broadening the discussion.

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