Do you ever get that feeling you’re going to love a book before even reading it? I had that going into You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac as you can tell by my preview. And now that I finished it, I can safely say I do love it. But the emotion I felt as I read the beautiful story took me by surprise. This is one not to miss.
I think I felt almost every feeling when reading You Me Everything: happy, sad, anger — but most of all hopeful. Reading has so many different benefits but perhaps one of the best is a novel’s ability to not only expand your horizons but also remind you of what’s important in life. And one of the big lessons found in You Me Everything is to take nothing for granted. This might not be a new concept but it’s one that people can forget among the daily stresses of life. So anytime a story can bring home the reminder that you live every day like tomorrow isn’t promised is an important one.
The story is told from the perspective of Jess, a very likable protagonist. We first meet Jess at an extremely chaotic time in her life—she’s about to give birth to her son and her boyfriend Adam is nowhere to be found. We learn that her pregnancy was unplanned at age 22 and Adam was not ready to become a father or settle down his partying ways. Adam finally shows up after she gives birth and it seems like he was out partying with other women instead of being there for the birth of his child. Needless to say, she breaks up with him.
It’s now 10 years later and life has changed quite a bit for all the characters. Jess is raising their son William as a single mom. Adam now lives in France and runs a hotel in a restored castle called Château de Roussignol. Adam’s relationship with his son is more of absent uncle than father. We also learn that Jess’ beloved mother is very ill and now lives in a nursing home full-time. Her mother encourages Jess to spend the summer at Adam’s Château de Roussignol so that father and son can reconnect. As the book progresses, we slowly learn why her mother is so insistent that William has a relationship with his dad and why Jess agrees to it despite having ill feelings toward Adam.
I enjoy first-person stories, you really get into the feelings of the character—the conflicts and confusion one can have—more so than any other perspective. In the case of You Me Everything, everything that happens is so vivid in Jess’ descriptions. Isaac has a very natural storytelling ability to where each word is authentic and conversations are natural.
As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in this book and some serious events take place. But something that I really enjoy was, of course, the descriptions of Château de Roussignol and its surroundings. I think the location is key in so many ways for this story. For one, whenever anyone is on vacation in a beautiful place, people take on a different attitude. What’s frustrating in every day life, almost all disappear as you’re thinking how to make the most of your time away. Yes, Jess is still very concerned about her mom but she does get a chance to relax at times, especially with her two friends who join them at Adam’s place. If the book took place elsewhere, I don’t think the story would be the same at all.
There are several themes found throughout the story but I think love is the most prevalent. Love of parents, children, between spouses and friends are so impactful. Jess’ love for her parents, especially her mom, felt relatable and was heartbreaking to read about her mom’s illness. Isaac does not shy away from addressing the terror, the frustration and fear that come with it. It might not be what you expect in a summer read. But outside of the sadness, there’s also plenty of comedy in all kinds of situations. For every dark moment, there’s plenty of light to meet it.
There is romance in this story with several different characters. I’m keeping this spoiler-free but I have feeling you’ll really like one of the romances in particular.
The relationship between Jess and her son William was so lovely to read. William is definitely starting the transition between child to teenager but they have such a sweet relationship. And William adores his father and the scenes between him and Adam really shine as well.
There’s a lot of dynamics in this read, with many enjoyable moments and some sad ones as well.
You have to add this one to your TBR (to be read) list immediately. Let me know what you think when you’ve read it!