... pure delight. Linda Holmes weaves a coziness into the small-town setting and the characters that populate it, lending even the novel’s hard moments a kind of warmth. Evvie’s character is funny and real, and her friends, her family, and Dean are all drawn with detail and complexity that make them feel familiar and make the moments the reader spends with them feel like quality time. With humor and heart, Holmes tells a story about granting yourself joy and liberation, about building the kind of home you always wanted with the people you love.
...a nuanced, extraordinarily ordinary adult love story that is as romantic as it is real ... At first, these characters appear to be fictional stereotypes – the lonely woman and the jock – but with Holmes' deft talent, they evolve into subtly nuanced individuals. Once we get to know the real Evvie and Dean, and as they get to know themselves, we want to continue the journey with them ... With the effortlessly enjoyable Evvie Drake Starts Over Holmes proves herself a natural novelist...
The charm of Holmes’ novel comes not only from a genuine friendship turned sweet romance between Evvie and Dean but also from watching amiable Evvie stumble through the process of finding herself. A warm and funny book that will captivate fans of Abbi Waxman and Taylor Jenkins Reid.
... a charming and engaging story that also proves willing to look at loss and how that can mean different things to different people ... There’s a wonderful juxtaposition at play here ... this is a debut novel from Holmes, although it certainly doesn’t read like one. There’s a smoothness to the storytelling that is a great pleasure to read, a gentle persistence of plot that bears the reader forward with deceptive speed – it’s the sort of book that you might read cover-to-cover in a single sitting if you’re not careful. The characterizations feel very full; Evvie and Dean are well-realized in ways both large and small. Oh, and it’s pretty damned funny in stretches too ... an ideal summer read, the sort of breezy book that offers strong relationships and compelling characters while also providing a fluid narrative flow. Few things are as captivating as love born from loss; this book offers that and more. If this is how Holmes begins her career as a novelist, I can’t wait to see what she does next.
There is much to mine here, but Holmes dances around the subtext of emotional abuse. It’s hinted at, along with Evvie’s own abandonment issues, but never rises to the foreground. Instead, a second (and far less compelling) lead character emerges ... The novel, set in Maine, seems destined to be read in summertime (preferably on a rocky beach, in view of a lighthouse). Perhaps it’s better that the darker material never overwhelms the story. Instead, this is escapism at its finest, focused on two people who have had an abrupt change in plans and must forge a path forward. And, inevitably, it’s a love story. The kind you can slip in and out of reading, as you would a pool, and still find yourself totally immersed.
... ripe with amusing wit and charm, skillfully explores regret and longing, friendship, love and forgiveness, and the challenges posed by reinvention. Strong characterizations and short, well-plotted scenes are filled with clever banter. Holmes has a firm grasp on the realities of everyday life and the difficulties of carving out happiness in the modern world. She understands what makes people hurt and pine, and the forces that ultimately conspire to encourage them to pick up, dust off and start again. Readers will cheer for this richly drawn cast as they swing, sometimes miss and even manage to hit a few home runs off the curveballs of life.
NPR pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes is an unabashed lover and ardent defender of the romantic comedy, so it’s unsurprising that her debut novel is exactly that. Evvie Drake Starts Over is a heartwarming rom-com about loss, grief and second chances ... Despite the kernel of sadness rooted at the novel’s core, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a feel-good read that radiates warmth. Holmes nails the balance between romance and humor, with Evvie and Dean’s effortless and truly funny dialogue being a particular strength. In addition to developing their convincing relationship, Holmes spends ample time fleshing out her leads so they feel like real people with legitimate issues. Uplifting and life-affirming ...
Holmes writes with an easy warmth about kind people who are trying their best but messing things up anyway. Characters speak to each other with natural but hilarious dialogue, making their conversations a joy to read. Refreshingly, Evvie and Dean’s relationship hurdles come about because they’re adults with complex lives and baggage, not because of easily fixed miscommunications. Although their romance is often front and center, there are many other emotionally affecting storylines, chief among them the changing friendship between Andy and Evvie and Evvie’s need to stand up to her family ... A warm and lovely romance, perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell and Louise Miller.