Things are about to get a lot different for Holly. After her boyfriend, Scott, stands her up yet again, she’s finally had enough. No longer will she mold herself to make others happy. Instead, she makes a list of all the goals she wants to accomplish— a full year’s worth. In no time, with her yellow Mini packed, she sets off for a farmhouse in Spain. As she settles into her new life, though, she’s soon distracted by her neighbor, Matias. But one of her goals for the year certainly isn’t to find love … right?
The book opens with Holly at such a low point in her life. Her grandfather has recently passed and the earliest scenes in the book are her attempting to deal with Scott, a wholly unlikable boyfriend who takes advantage of her. Even so, she justifies their relationship, and these moments are honestly painful to read. Holly seems like a character completely content to be miserable. Yet, if this sounds depressing, it shouldn’t. Author Karen King has masterfully crafted such a sorry beginning for Holly that when she snaps and creates her goals for the year to come it’s such a rejoiceful moment— she finally reflects on her own happiness.
And these aren’t your standard resolutions.
In a whirlwind of moments, she cruises off to Spain. It’s a country she’s only been to once. She doesn’t speak the language. She just has two friends offering a place to stay, a lot of cash, and the drive to find out what she wants in life.
But, of course, romance has to complicate things. Matias is a perfect foil. When they first meet, there might be attraction, but there is no love at first sight. Instead, King goes for a beautiful slow burn, allowing the two to get to know each other by diving into complicated pasts. It’s effective, and the budding relationship between them feels completely organic. Toss in some missed signals and tension and … well, how on earth is a girl supposed to focus on her sangria with a guy like Matias walking around?
King also has crafted such a wonderful village in Spain. The locale feels deliciously real, marking such a beautiful area for Holly to complete her goals (often with the help of Matias). There’s really no better place to try fifty different flavors of ice cream or to go snorkeling. It helps that King has populated the area with a small but charming cast of secondary characters. There aren’t a lot of external forces complicating the plot for Holly, but King more than manages to make reading about pool parties or simple dinners compelling because the people and place feel so real.
For a fun story that tackles personal growth, there aren’t many as solid as The Year of Starting Over.
Title: The Year of Starting Over
Author: Karen King
Publication Date: February 7, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.