Beautiful, genuine, and real: Victoria Bylin’s new novel Someone Like You is a modern day journey rife with the potholes, mountains and valleys, and moments of hilarity and heartbreak that make a story steal your heart. Not only that, but this book respects readers by giving us some smart, capable characters.
Julia Dare is a talented event planner who has started her own business with the clever name, Dare to Dream. As a single mom, she has a loving relationship with her four-year-old son Max and a complicated power struggle with his father, Hunter, who hasn’t given up on marrying her. The book cleverly inserts snippets of the past, clueing you into the events which led up to present circumstances. I found it nice that the author wasn’t heavy-handed with dream sequences or flashbacks; instead, it was subtly and seamlessly woven together. Her portrayal of Julia’s commitment to raising her son as a single Christian mother was really beautiful and genuine to me, from her comforting her son to dreading the inevitable tantrums.
Zeke, the other key protagonist, is another compelling figure who manages a resort which involves everything from business calls to wrangling goats and horses. I loved the descriptions of Caliente Springs near L.A. and could visualize it perfectly; it felt like a vacation to read about it! Bylin lets us see and experience his management style and down-to-earth work ethic. As a professional, I am glad to finally read a book which gives the readers just enough about the job challenges (wedding planning, resort management) to be authentic and smart but not so much we feel like we too are living the daily grind. Plus, there were moments of hilarity in both, mainly involving a rampaging goat!
This book is a nice “twofer” love story; Julia’s widowed mother also has a beautiful lovematch with an unexpected person! I loved that this story could reach adult women both Julia’s age and her mother’s age. The romance in both was tangible and tingling; not easy to accomplish!
The writing itself is also thoughtful and beautiful; my favorite was the symbolism of splitting geodes to unveil amethysts is connected to God’s ability to open stubborn hearts. Plus there are lots of fun references to pop culture from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Lynda Carter.
Perhaps what was most impressive and inspiring is Bylin’s ability to weave in the characters’ relationship with God and each other. You not only learn about but see their spiritual relationships dynamically changing throughout their lives, ebbing and flowing in faith just as real people do. Zeke and Julia both reflect on how different they were in college, their failures and hurts, and where they are now; it gives other young adults hope that life will change, and God loves you regardless of past choices.
I heartily recommend this read to adult women as a great story for the summertime; it’s a journey that will leave you laughing, thankful, glad, and uplifted. These people endure real challenges as God’s love sustains them and indeed, bring them to a place of joy, purpose, and deeper relationships.
I received this book for free from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program and am not obligated to post a positive review, only an honest one.