Tag: mid-life crisis

Save What’s Left Book Review

Debut Novel

Book cover of Save What's Left depicting a small beach house next to a cubical McMansion.The debut novel, Save What’s Left by Elizabeth Castellano is hard to pigeonhole. The story is set in a beach town and yet more than a summer beach novel. The main character, Kathleen Deane, is a newly retired, middle-aged woman recovering from the shock of being dumped after thirty years of marriage.

Candidly, the protagonist lets the reader know that the marriage wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. So, after decades of muddling through life, her husband Tom decides to travel the world to discover the meaning of life.

Meanwhile, Kathleen decides a change of scenery will get her life back on track. She buys a beach house. Sight unseen except through a grainy video. Then the “fun” begins. Environmental activism stirs the growth of the lead character as she struggles to reshape her own identity.

Many Levels of Save What’s Left

The characters in Save What’s Left were quite unique. Some were likeable. And a few were grating. However, most perplexing is Kathleen. She becomes a strident advocate to save what’s left of the natural beachscape. Thus, much of the story is told through her numerous complaint letters concerning the McMansion materializing just outside the window of her humble home.

Castellano does justice to this theme of urban growth crowding out natural landscape in former rural areas. So, those from coastal areas grasp the dilemma immediately. Furthermore, the activism of the lead character and the roadblocks she encounters ring with truth.


Save What’s Left does have a storyline. Local corruption circumvents covenants protecting the seashore. Furthermore, the misconduct goes beyond the boardroom complicating Kathleen’s advocacy. And involving secondary characters important to the growth of the protagonist. Tangling matters more, Tom reappears. Their tenuous relationship weaves its’ way into the plot. Tom’s character is quite interesting.

Recommendation for Save What’s Left

I picked up Elizabeth Castellano’s novel at the bookstore for multiple reasons. First, the name jumped out at me. One of my favorite East Coast based jockeys shares the same surname. (Highly doubtful they are related, but one never knows.) Then, the fact it was a debut novel. I love giving new authors support. Finally, the cover design. A small beach house much like I grew up in juxtaposed with a sugar cubed McMansion.

I didn’t quite like a few of the characters, nor the plot structure. The numerous complaint letters often interrupted the action flow. (However, the letters are integral to the story.) Yet I could not put the book down! A key win for Ms. Castellano. I can’t wait to see what she publishes next.


I Almost Forgot About You-by Terry McMillan Book Review

This is the first Terry McMillan book that I have read. It moved me. Not only did I feel empathy for the individuals in the story, but I also felt connected. Even though I have lived a vastly differently life I laughed and cried as the story unfolded.

On the surface I have nothing in common with Dr. Georgia Young, the main character. She is twice divorced, a daughter from each marriage, has her own practice, lives on the West Coast in a thriving city and a woman of color. But boy how I could relate!

Dr. Young is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. She is lonely. Happiness is fleeting. She wants to quit her lucrative practice, sell her house and find herself. However she is a bit daunted by the fact that she is in her fifties. In addition, obstacles, normal life events, stand in her way.

McMillan does a fantastic job of exploring that age when more years are behind rather than in front. Questions pop up when you reach your fifties. Have I made a difference? How would things turned out if…? This is the age where you either reach Maslow’s self-actualization or think you might need to start over.

In real life, seldom do changes occur over night. Thus the author creates a realistic tale by having Young’s desire for change transpire over a number of years. The characters are so well-developed the reader feels a part of the story. And the time flies.

The trigger for the entire story is the discovery of the death of a former lover. Dr. Young decides to find, make amends, forgive if possible, or thank as the case may be all her past significant others. One BFF thinks this is a great idea and the other is horrified.

The search takes time. Life keeps churning even through the stops and starts of the search. Old issues are resolved, or not. Finally, a happy ending, which does not always happen in contemporary novels.

I loved this novel and recommend it for mature readers. The writing is superb and I plan to buy more of McMillan’s books. However, this is a novel which covers topics which can be shocking or controversial depending on your background. Read with an open mind. Or don’t read at all.