Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell

I finished reading Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell almost a week ago. Usually, when I offer my opinion of a book to our loyal following, I do it within minutes of turning the last page. This one, however, needed to marinate in my head; a long soak amid the gray matter before I felt I could articulate with any clarity how much I loved Ms. Wardell’s latest. I still don’t know if I can do that task justice, but I think I’m ready to try.

Imagine waking up naked in a stranger’s bed with no recollection of how you got there. And add to that the undeniable fact that you are in a thirty-two year old body with the thoughts of a seventeen year old and no memory of who you are, where you live and what you’ve been doing for the past fifteen years. This is exactly what happens to Kate Anderson as she abruptly discovers that the years between 1996 and 2011 are nothing more than a blank slate.  Terror, depression and acute frustration vie for top emotional billing as Kate (with help of Jake - the bighearted, gorgeous stranger) tries to find out who she really is.

This is not a flighty contemporary romance. Some heavy topics are tackled, including severe depression, teenage pregnancy, adultery and date rape. The sum of these rather grim parts could have easily swept me into a deep, black hole, but much to Ms. Wardell’s credit, they did not. Just the opposite, I think, as I found myself carefully examining my own life experiences during that same period of time and while I would clearly like to forget a few of them, unlike Kate, I have little to regret.  

For me, the greatest strength of the story is the inherent unpredictability of the plot. For two-thirds of the book, I leaned heavily in one direction and then the fragility of Kate’s new discoveries pulled me down an entirely different path. I loved that I needed to be coaxed and persuaded, just like Kate, to discover, embrace and savor what seemed familiar, yet was still completely unknown. And, as is usual for Ms. Wardell, the secondary characters are well written, playing their supporting roles perfectly. One character in particular (and I can't mention the name without spoiling Kate's journey for you) is ripe for a book of his own. I'm still a little in love with him, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  

Much in the same vein as Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros, Blank Slate Kate is an unexpectedly uplifting, surprisingly unconventional and deeply touching story.  It’s definitely worth the emotional investment. A must read. 

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