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How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Romance

How to Walk Away

by Katherine Center

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Quick take

A heartwarming story of a young woman forced to reckon with what—and who—truly matters in life.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance

    Romance

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Inspirational

    Inspirational

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

Synopsis

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: A new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there's her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there's Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won't let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

A masterpiece of a novel, How to Walk Away is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of How to Walk Away.
How to Walk Away

One

The biggest irony about that night is that I was always scared to fly.

Always. Ever since I was old enough to think about it.

It seemed counterintuitive. Even a little arrogant. Why go up when gravity clearly wanted us to stay down?

Back in high school, my parents took my big sister, Kitty, and me to Hawaii one year. I dreaded the flight from the moment they told us until well after we were home again. The phrase “flying to Hawaii” translated in my head to “drowning in the ocean.” The week before the trip, I found myself planning out survival strategies. One night after lights out, I snuck to Kitty’s room and climbed into her bed.

I was a freshman, and she was a senior, which gave her a lot of authority.

“What’s the plan?” I demanded.

Her face was half buried in the pillow. “The plan for what?”

“For when the plane hits.”

She opened an eye. “Hits what?”

“The ocean. On the way to Hawaii.”

She held my gaze for a second. “That’s not going to happen.”

“I have a bad feeling,” I said.

“Now you’re jinxing us.”

“This is serious. We need a survival strategy.”

She reached out and patted my bangs. “There is no survival strategy.”

“There has to be.”

“No.” She shook her head. “Because if we don’t crash, we won’t need one. And if we do crash . . .” She paused so I could catch her drift.

“We won’t need one?”

A nod. “We’ll just be dead.” Then she snapped her fingers.

“You make it sound easy.”

“Dying is easy. It’s not dying that’s hard.”

“Guess you have a point there.”

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Why I love it

I picked up How To Walk Away with the intention of reading the opening paragraph, just to see what it was all about. One hundred pages later, I realized I had missed six emails, two phone calls, and lunch. I never miss a meal. But Katherine Center's voice did what great fiction is meant to do: It pulled me in so immediately and completely that I forgot about real life.

How To Walk Away begins where most romances end—with a marriage proposal. When Margaret Jacobsen’s amateur pilot boyfriend wooes her in the cabin of a high-flying small plane, the concrete foundation of her future perfect life—a fancy career, a loving husband—is at last beginning to set. But only minutes later, a freak accident occurs, and everything Margaret’s worked so hard to build comes crashing down.

After the shock of the first few chapters wore off, I settled into the story like a fly on the wall, watching our endearing and slightly neurotic Margaret come to grips with the (literal and figurative) wreckage of her life while managing a rotating cast of family members, caregivers, and a temptingly-moody physical therapist. This generous story about family secrets, love in sickness and in health, and the resilience of the human spirit has serious Nora Ephron vibes.

I loved it and I think you will, too.

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Member ratings (13,706)

  • Nikki S.

    Howell, MI

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5! It only took 1 chapter for me to become invested in this book. Maybe it was the healthcare tie or the story itself but I was rooting for a happy ending for Maggie from the beginning!

  • Bliss T.

    Fitchburg, WI

    Great book about finding yourself when you feel lost! ❤️ I love how she didn't settle on her past and grew to find a more meaningful and passionate life that was her choice!! Forever on Ian's side❤️❤️

  • Rhea J.

    Watauga, TX

    Such an inspirational read!❤️ my favorite quote: “It’s the trying that heals you!” And “Love happens all the time!” And always remember “...there really are all kinds of happy endings!” ❤️

  • Ashley N.

    Carlisle, IA

    I absolutely love that Katherine’s books always end in a “more realistic” way, in that the MC gets a happy ending, but it may not look like the typical “everything is fixed and perfect.” GREAT story!

  • Deborah B.

    Nipomo, CA

    I broke my ankle and was told I wouldn’t walk for 4 mo’s when I got this book. I was devastated. I didn’t know the story’s plot at that time. It was entertaining and inspiring just when I needed it.

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