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This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
Contemporary fiction

This Close to Okay

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This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Leesa Cross-Smith

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Quick take

A near-tragedy brings together two lonely strangers who might just have the ability to save each other's lives.

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Inspirational


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Literary



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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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of This Close to Okay.
This Close to Okay

Part One


Tallie saw him drop his backpack and climb over the metal railing, the bridge. The gray Ohio River below them, a swift-rippling ribbon. She was driving slowly because of the rain, the crepuscular light. She didn’t give herself time to think. Pulled over, lowered the passenger-side window, and said hey.



The heys increased in frequency, volume. To her left, the blur of traffic. She punched her hazards, climbed over the armrest and out of her car, leaving the passenger door peeled open.

“Hey! I see you! You don’t know me, but I care about you! Don’t jump!” she said, loud enough for him to hear, but she didn’t want to startle him, either. The cars and trucks were loud, the rain was loud, the sky was loud, the bridge was loud—all those sounds echoing off it, rattling down and back up. The world was so loud.

He turned slightly, his face wet with rain.

“Hi. I’m Tallie,” she said. “I don’t want you to do this. Is there somewhere I can take you instead? And I could take your backpack. What’s your name?” She was reluctant to touch the backpack. It was dark green and dirty. She reached for it.

“Don’t touch it,” he said softly. Far too softly for someone who was about to jump to his death. Why bother speaking softly when death is slipping its hand in your pocket?

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Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (12,426)

  • Jenna A.

    Plano, IL

    5/5. Such an interesting concept & development of characters. There were some important conversations being had in this book. I’m also glad the author did not fall into the “unethical therapist trope”

  • Briana L.

    Calabasas, CA

    What’s stellar is this immediate sense of living in the moment of each protagonists’ story. Both leave a visceral mark on the reader’s investment of how they came together and what that leaves behind.

  • Linsey G.

    Liberty, NC

    OMG ???????????? I loved this book.... the secrets and the connections were fantastic. Tallie is such a kind soul, and Emmett is a person worthy of sainthood. They both inspire me to be more understanding.

  • Alexandra A.

    Nashville, TN

    I cannot describe how emotionally invested I was in these two characters. I loved their story, their connection, and how they were needed in each other’s lives in ways they could not have guessed. ♥️

  • Sarina C.

    Fairfield, CA

    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!

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