Until I Met You by Tari Faris {book review}

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Reads. These are my honest thoughts.

“You get to choose if [your past] defines you now.”

This book was like a warm hug on a wintry night, and I think the biggest reason is that it encapsulated the theme from 1 Corinthians 13:5, which states (in part) that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” This has been one of my favorite verses for going on five years now, and I love how a fictional book could so beautifully bring out the gritty truth of what this verse looks like when applied to a person’s life.

Until I Met You by Tari Faris is a messy (in a good way), beautiful story about relatable characters that go through everyday problems. They hold grudges and make mistakes. They’re able to discuss things in real ways instead of skirting around the issues, yet they sometimes let their anger, bitterness, frustrations, and definitely their assumptions get in the way of following through on other conversations. These things reflected real life to me, and I could so easily relate to so many things about this story. Not just the negative things either. There was a ton of good stuff too, all easy to understand and “get.”

While we’re on the topic of assumptions, though, I want to say something. I sometimes make assumptions about people. I think it’s a thing we humans do. Based on our own personal experiences and knowledge, we assume we know what’s best for people or what someone meant by something they said just because of their tone. But I wonder, how many times do we misread the situation? How many times do we not see the hurt behind the tone, that the person had a bad day prior to that moment that gave out that wonky tone that pushed our own buttons to make an assumption? I know a lot of times I can have other things on my mind when I respond to people and don’t realize that the words and tone and intention didn’t all match up to indicate what I really meant. How many times could it be the same for other people too?

This book made me think about that. Among other things, of course, but that was a big one, probably because it was such a huge theme in this story.

Okay, so we’re moving on to the fun stuff about this book.

Danielle was amazing for what few pages she was there. I really hope this gal gets her own book, because I totally want to know more. Like, right now. *cheesy grin*

The Carnegie thing… Y’all, if the only reason you read this book is to find out why this Carnegie thing completely melted my heart, do it. It melted me, I’m telling you.

This line made me laugh so hard: “This library didn’t need to be reopened. It needed to be resuscitated.”

This line spoke to me in a profound way: “I do the only thing I can when faced with a lie. I hold on to the truth.”

The recurring thread involving a bag of coins was priceless. (See what I did there? Wink, wink.)

I adored the way that phobias were represented. I’ve had a phobia or two in my past, and this book showed them in a realistic way. It was made clear how debilitating they are yet how freeing it can be when one finds that “twenty seconds of insane courage,” as We Bought a Zoo says. (Yes, I was absolutely thrilled that this line was quoted in this story. It fit so well and was a great nod to one of my favorite movies, of which there are many, naturally.)

Libby was so adorable! I had trouble picturing her as the cute blonde on the cover. While that gal is adorable and the cover is charming and one of my favorites this year, the personality that immediately popped off the pages to me was so reminiscent of the leading lady from the movie This Beautiful Fantastic that I could only picture Libby as Miss Jessica Brown Findlay portrayed Bella in that film. If you’ve seen that story and read this one, please tell me you see the resemblance! The quirkiness, the library job, the awkwardness, the charmingness, the utter romance and never-give-up attitude… Y’all, I’m telling you, when that personality popped so clearly at me, I had no choice but to envision Miss Findlay. So sorry, Miss Model on the Cover! I don’t know your name, but you did great work for the cover of this book. Maybe next read I’ll picture you as Libby. *hopeful smiley face*

Olivia was spunky and adorable, and I related to her right away. However, I again couldn’t picture her as blonde (way late in the book I found out she was supposed to be white-blonde; who knew?). Most of the Olivias I’ve known in person have been olive-skinned and dark-brown-haired. *shrug* I’m sure the comment in the story about how her sister took after her mom’s Italian genes (dark-skinned, dark-haired) while Olivia took after her dad’s Scandinavian blood (fair-skinned, light-haired) was supposed to help cement that pale-hair, pale-skin image in my mind. I immediately flashed to the comment Alicia Vikander once made about how, when her skin was lightened with makeup for a role in which she portrayed a Scandinavian woman, she said that she was the “only Scandinavian in the whole film” and that her darker skin tone was her “natural color” rather than a tan. So yeah. I pictured Olivia as olive-skinned and dark-haired, though I really did try to find a white-blonde, light-skinned mental image to attach to her. *shrug* Preset images attached to names are tricky to overcome sometimes.

All that being said about these ladies, I cherished their stories so much. Their journeys were relatable and fun and engaging. They faced real problems and had real hopes and dreams. It was such an adventure journeying with them through this book.

Okay, so let’s talk brothers. I don’t have any brothers, but I imagine the Williams boys are a good example of the crazy dynamics that can come with brotherhood. They were handsome, charming, a little lost, and definitely lacked in the communication department. I liked that they attempted to overcome their past mistakes and regrets in order to chase their futures and their dreams with everything they thought they had at the time. Can I just say that the dates these guys (okay, that Mrs. Faris) thought up were fresh and exciting and super adorable? It’s been a good, long while since I read such a great fishing scene in a romance book. Thank you, Mrs. Faris!

One last thing: I greatly enjoyed the reflections of the Prodigal Son parable I found in this story. From the rebellious brother to the dedicated brother to the father who loved them both… there was so much to truly cherish about this story.

I can hardly wait to find out what happens next in the Restoring Heritage series (if it continues, which I hope for so much).

Content: tattoos, one gambling reference, one sexual term, one drug joke

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