Book Review: "The Life You've Imagined" by Kristina Riggle

Are you living the life you imagined? Is there anything you'd have done differently if you could? Those are the questions asked in Kristina Riggle's unforgettable new novel.

In high school, Cami and Anna were as close as they could, years later, both have returned to their hometown to face the people they had once left behind.

Anna must confront her mother, still distraught over the abandonment of her husband, and come to terms with choices she had made years before. While Cami returns home to stay with her alcoholic father, she must face a secret that she thought was long-since buried.

This is a novel that digs deep and touches the heart of the issues so many women face-the quest for perfection, the hope of love, the value of family and importance of always striving for your dream.

I'm pretty sure that for most of us, there are certain things in our life we wish we could go back and change. I'm sure that there are times when we wish our lives had turned out a different way. I can bet that many of us, when we were younger, did not see us living the way we are now. This book explores those thoughts as two friends return to their hometown, reunite with an old classmate and see how their lives could have been and how they are now.

Ever since I've had to deal with experiences in my own life with an alcoholic/addict, I find myself now feeling empathy for characters who experience the same thing. Therefore reading about Cami's struggles with her alcoholic father was heartbreaking and painful to read. It's so sad to see how the addiction takes control over a person's life and turns them into a monster who wants to do nothing but inflict pain. Ironically, Cami herself suffers from a gambling addiction but I didn't feel as if there was much to that part of her story. Still, I felt drawn to reading her sections the most because I could relate to her, and my heart broke for her.

Anna and her mother both share their stories. Anna is reconnecting with her high school boyfriend who also happens to still be married. Meanwhile her mother has been corresponding secretly with her former husband, who walked on her and Anna years ago. The two are hiding the secrets from each other as they both live the life they thought they should have lived all these years.
I was actually a bit surprised to read about Amy's story in this book. She's not mentioned at all on the back cover description so I was rather taken aback when she suddenly appeared in the story. Still I found her sections to be quite interesting as she's a former "fat girl" adjusting to her new life. She's about to get married but is still suffering from low self confidence and is worried about her relationship with her fiance.

All four of the women each bring a unique view to the title of the book. None of them have been living the lives that they dreamed they would be living. Some things turn out for the better, some for the worst but they have to accept it for what it is. It's a great thinking device for the reader too. How many of us are living the live we imagined? Sure, we can regret the way things could have been or we can stop living in our imagination and live our lives as they happen. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It's a wonderful book for discussion and I can easily see this book being used in a book club. The book provides an insightful yet entertaining read. I am looking forward to reading Riggle's previous book as well as any that she has in the future.

The Life You've Imagined by Kristina Riggle is published by Avon A (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher


  1. LOVE the cover, which hints at problems. Just look at those shadows.

    Very cool!


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