Monday, March 24, 2014

REVIEW: April & Oliver by Tess Callahan

Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April's brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April -- and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to "save" his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own -- secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fiancee. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April's life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral...towards salvation. 

BUY: Amazon 

“All your life you’re yellow. Then one day you brush up against something blue, the barest touch, and voila, the rest of your life you’re green.” – Nana

Let me start off by saying I did really like April & Oliver, but there were a couple things that held me back from really falling in love with it. We’ll get to those issues later on. As much as I love the happily ever after stories (who doesn’t?!), I have recently realized that I love books that have twisted, f*cked up relationships just as much. Relationships aren’t always unicorns and rainbows; they’re also tornadoes capable of mass destruction. Unfortunately, it seems like April was content with the latter. 

April and Oliver were best friends throughout their childhood, but drifted apart after high school. Oliver moved away and went to college while April stayed in New York and worked at her late father’s bar. They went from being best friends to complete strangers, and it’s not until the sudden death of April’s little brother, Buddy, that Oliver is jolted back into April’s life…only he’s not alone. He has his fiancée Bernadette in tow. Regardless, Oliver attempts to help April anyway he can even if it may appear that he is more anxious to spend time with her than his fiancée. I kind of went back and forth between liking Oliver; at first, it seemed like April was the self-destructive one and Oliver was simply a good friend who didn’t quite know how to deal with her situation. My opinion of him changed about halfway through the book though. He seemed to want April more, but refused to admit it...or act on it…and that made me mad at him. Not because he wanted April, but because he wasn’t honest enough to admit it to himself, and more importantly, to Bernadette. April warned him that she would only cause problems for him, and yet he still couldn’t leave her alone. I didn’t expect him to drop her like a bad habit given their past, but it just upset me that he wouldn’t own up to his feelings not only for his sake, but for Bernadette’s! 

Surprisingly, I didn’t dislike April. I knew going into the book that she would be a bit self-destructive, but I didn’t realize the extent…and yet I still found myself in her corner. You learn about the issues she had with Quincy, her father’s partner in the bar business, and you realize why she is so f*cked up. She’s one of those girls that believes she doesn’t deserve a good man because of her past and her dump truck full of baggage. Instead of realizing her worth, she goes back to an abusive relationship with T.J. because she feels like that’s all she’s good enough for; it’s so sad. She was so used to masking her pain that when she was physically hurt, it didn’t affect her. One instance in particular was really disturbing, and I’m sure you’ll know exactly what part I’m referring to once you’ve read this book. I felt for her from page 1 up until the very end, and somehow I felt bonded to her. 

Now, I didn’t give it 5 stars for a couple reasons. The first being that I felt so bad for Bernadette and the way Oliver “looked right through her” on multiple occasions that it made me dislike him. The character of Bernadette was so sweetly written and had such good intentions that it broke my heart a little to see her start wondering if maybe Oliver did feel something for April. I probably still would have been upset had Oliver handled things differently with her, but the fact that he continued to hide his feelings from her upset me. I was also hoping for more of a physical connection between April and Oliver, and unfortunately there isn’t much of that; not that I would condone him cheating on Bernadette (it would have made me dislike him even more), but I feel like we only barely scratched the surface of their physical connection, and I would have liked to delve a little deeper. 

All in all, I really liked this book and it is definitely one of the better books I have read recently. I found myself really drawn to both April and Bernadette more than any other characters, which made my emotions play tug-of-war with each other when it came to their relationships with Oliver. Did I want Oliver with April or Bernadette? I don’t think I can answer that, because I haven't really made up my mind yet. I’ll think on it, while you go out and pick up this book. Seriously. Go now.


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