Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: WITHOUT BENEFITS

Emma will always be a New Yorker at heart, even though she has a perfect life in Seattle. She has a prestigious job fundraising for the Seattle Symphony, a handsome boyfriend who adores her, and a Belltown apartment with views of the Sound. It should be more than enough to keep her pain from not playing the piano, and her 9/11 nightmares, away. But when her old college crush, Owen, comes back into her life, it’s more than just spending time with him that’s causing cracks in her picture-perfect life. As she steps back on stage, and back into the spotlight, her connection with Owen and his world, dredges up old memories that Emma worked hard to forget. Emma’s past comes back to haunt her, forcing her to face the truth about more than just her fears of returning back to New York. As her once perfect life begins to burn down, Emma is forced to figure out what she really wants: her fundraiser and cocktail party-filled life with her boyfriend, or forging a new future with the one thing, and one person, she’s ever loved–even if it means returning to New York. Without Benefits is a beautiful and moving exploration of modern relationships and family written in the vein of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Renee Carlino.

About the author:


 Nicole Tone is a freelance editor, MFA student, traveler, pet collector, binge-watcher, and a self- proclaimed coffee snob. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, three cats, and two very large dogs, but spends as much of her time in Seattle as possible. You can like her page on Facebook, @ her on Twitter, swoon over dream houses together on Pinterest, and add Without Benefits on Goodreads.


The Review:  I read the first chapter of WITHOUT BENEFITS a while back when Nicole Tone asked for a reader on Twitter. After I finished, I knew I needed this book. When I got my ARC, I was not disappointed. 

I have never played a musical instrument, I have never been a relationship for a decade, and I have never lived in the Pacific-Northwest but Emma's story still felt like my own. She was incredibly easy to empathize with and relate to. Her oscillating feelings of happiness, discontent,, confidence, uncertainty, self-reliance, and dependency felt like the defining characteristics of my own mid-twenties existence. Her journey to rediscover her art, find closure with a college crush and contentment with a seemingly perfect boyfriend, and make a home in a city on the opposite side of the country spoke to me on a universal level. I didn't want to put the book down unless it was to call up Emma herself and schedule a coffee date to commiserate about our confusing lives. Although there are distinctive events that push the story forward, Emma's arc is self-motivated. She realizes she is not living the life she imagined and she might not be as okay with that as she originally thought.  Tone's exploration of interpersonal relationships was superb and couched in her soft prose that drew me farther in with each sentence.

I cannot wait to read this book again when my paperback arrives!



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