A near-tragedy brings together two lonely strangers who might just have the ability to save each other's lives.
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Why I love it
Author, The Reckless Oath We Made
It’s no secret to say that we are living in difficult times. And in a holiday season where so many of us are isolated from friends and family, I suspect many of us are yearning for a sense of connection. That’s part of why Leesa Cross-Smith's new novel spoke so powerfully to me. This Close to Okay is a love story, but not in the usual sense of romantic love. Rather, it's a story about one wounded soul reaching out to another in a moment of love and compassion, changing both of their lives forever.
When we meet Tallie and Emmett, they are resigned to their fates—her to living a life of loneliness and disappointment after a failed marriage, and him to ending a life of pain. But when Tallie stops on a bridge one rainy night to rescue a stranger, making the arguably reckless decision to welcome the secretive and suicidal Emmett into her home, the two share a cathartic weekend that reaffirms their humanity.
This is undoubtedly a story about grief and pain. But it is also a story of two people who, in the process of getting to know one another, rediscover the healing power of love, family, and community. Now, more than ever, my heart needed a story about starting over and choosing hope over despair. This is that story.
On a rainy October night in Kentucky, recently divorced therapist Tallie Clark is on her way home from work when she spots a man precariously standing on the side of a bridge. Without a second thought, Tallie pulls over and jumps out of the car into the pouring rain. She convinces the man to join her for a cup of coffee, and he eventually agrees to come back to her house, where he finally shares his name: Emmett.
Over the course of the emotionally charged weekend that follows, Tallie makes it her mission to provide a safe space for Emmett, though she hesitates to confess that this is also her day job. But what she doesn't realize is that he's not the only one who needs healing—and she's not the only one with secrets.
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I was blown away by this book. It took me a while to get going, but — once i did — I devoured this. Lyrical prose, sympathetic characters, and a heartwrenching twist that worked beautifully. Loved it!
My favorite book of the year so far. I’m always hyper aware that the characters I’m reading are imaginary and enjoy/relate to them just fine that way. But, these characters felt so REAL, especially R.
A surprising and intense book that pulls no punches about how grief and suicidal ideation grip people and don’t let go, and how we deal with those overpowering emotions. I’m so glad I read this book.
Henderson , NV
Leesa Cross-Smith is an absolute master of voice and narration. Her story collection, So We Can Glow, was brilliant. I almost instantly fell in love with TCtO’s main character. Highest recommendation
Lagrange , OH
This book is perfect. This book is everything. For a while now I’ve needed something so well-written and all-consuming. I will cherish the memory of this book forever and use its lessons for strength.
This book was so raw, and I mean that in the best way. There was so much vulnerability and emotion throughout; I grew very invested in Tallie and Emmett, rooting for them even when they made mistakes.
What a beautiful story! Like the character in this book, I, too, have suffered a terrible grief; and I know how difficult surviving, afterwards, is. This story is meant to be read and savored slowly.
Harrisburg , PA
This book was different that I expected. I anticipated sobbing the whole time but it ended up being a little mystery, a little sad, and a little light. The authors note at the end really made the book
Little Rock, AR
After reading her debut, I became a huge fan of Leesa Cross-Smith and her sophomore effort did not disappoint! This is a thought-provoking novel with relatable characters and important, timely themes.
I just love how Tallie & Emmett work! I was draw in as soon as Tallie got out the car and help Emmett get off that bridge and everything after it! I was happy i chose this book as my BOTM of December!
Glendale , CA
So many warm feels. A glimmer of hope during a dark, seemingly hopeless year. Finished this book on NYE and flipping to a new hopeful chapter. This book was exactly what I needed. See. Small mercies.
I was invested in the story of the people in this book immediately. Found myself thinking of them when not reading about them. What was his story ? Was she in danger ? How was this going to end ?
Boulder , CO
I almost gave up after the first 40 or so pages. The style of writing was not my cup of tea at first. But it blossomed in to a truly beautiful, real & deeply touching story. I am so, so glad I read it
Rochester , WA
I feel so cozy and comforted by this story. The characters. The setting. While the subject matter could be considered dark, there was hope, love, and light. Reading felt like a blanket & a mug of tea.
This story pulled me in quickly and held me tight. Two characters brought together by chance that share an intimate, healing experience. The book is laced with cozy autumn details, a great fall read!
Love the relatable characters. They all go through so much but threw the pain they grow and chage. This is also a good book for anyone interested in psyche, relaxing atmospheres, and a compelling read
This book both wrecked me emotionally and filled me with an immense amount of hope. The hurting and healing, with no quick simple fix for the really hard, messy parts of life was beautiful. Wonderful!
It was an enticing semi-love story that kept me locked in. I always enjoy books where the chapters go back and forth between the perspectives of each character. The ending was a surprise! Def worth it
New York, NY
I loved this, read it in a day! The change in perspective made it hard to put down. My one criticism is that i think the end was rushed and not fleshed out enough. Otherwise, it was a beautiful story
Santa Ana, CA
I have no words for how beautiful the characters in this story are, and how wonderfully woven the story was. What a safe space to love, grieve, forgive, and be seen and heard as the protagonists are.