Alex has always had an unstable relationship with her mother. Alex never knew her father and growing up she knew a scholarship to college was going to be her way out. She speaks to her mother and brother sporadically and rarely goes back home. Alex is now a writer for a magazine, but when her brother, Owen, calls with news that their mother has died, Alex knows she has to return home.
Taking her work with her, Alex gets herself an assignment profiling Juliette Sprigg, a local chef who has made a name for herself. Juliette is also Alex’s ex-girlfriend from high school and Alex never got the closure she needed from that relationship. Alex knows she still has feelings for Juliette, who is now married to a man, and when Alex meets Carolyn, the editor of the local newspaper, there are feelings there as well. But Alex has much to sort out about her family life and it gets further complicated when their Aunt Johanna comes to visit. Johanna was always somewhat of a mystery to Alex and the secret she reveals is something Alex never saw coming. As Alex spends more time at home, more feelings emerge and Alex has to figure out how to reconcile it all if she wants to move on with her life.
I like the idea of these kinds of books where the main character goes home to try and sort out their life. You’ll be Fine was not fine for me though. It was a combination of the book being written in third-person present, with characters who I did not find likable enough to carry this story, along with too many topics being dropped in and then not fully explored.
The book opens with a flashback of Alex and her mother arguing in the car and her mother leaves Alex in the parking lot of an amusement park and drives away. It is shown as a pivotal moment in Alex’s life, but when she recalls it years later, she barely remembers the details, although her mother did come back for her. This scene then sets the dynamic up between Alex and her mother and her younger brother, Owen, as well. I never felt a true sense of who Alex’s mother was. She clearly had her own issues, while lying to her children, getting involved in illegal business practices, abusing pills, and not believing Alex about abuse from the mother’s boyfriend.
Everyone clearly had lots of issues, but everyone was selfish and these weren’t characters I wanted to read about. Owen had his own drama, but his character was only explored on the surface. Johanna, who was lying to them all these years, added another layer of deception that also wasn’t explored in depth. Then there is Juliette, Alex’s ex, who lies to everyone. I never did feel any type of connection between Alex and Juliette, although we are told there is one, and every scene in this book had the same bland style to it. Then there is Carolyn, who Alex gets involved with as well. Through Alex’s eyes, Carolyn never came across as a love interest and I never did understand what Carolyn even saw in Alex.
The end tried to box everything up with many things still not fully resolved. Alex’s final scene was supposed to be one of hope, but it did not have that appeal to me. The title references when bad things happen and the characters are told, “you’ll be fine,” but nobody actually was fine or seemed on their way to being fine and this book overall was not a winner for me.