Book Review: The Memory Keeper by Jenny Hale

The Memory Keeper by Jenny HaleTitle: The Memory Keeper
Author: Jenny Hale
Publisher: Harpeth Road Press
Publication date: January 26, 2021
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
One Sentence Summary: When her grandmother is hospitalized, Hannah tries to rush home to Tennessee, but a snowstorm has her driving alongside old friend Liam and new friend Georgia to help her grandmother and her flower shop.

The Memory Keeper was such a sweet story! Everything about it was gentle and beautiful. I loved how mature the characters were, how close to friends and family they were. This was an incredibly lovely story about going back home to find yourself both changed and unchanged. But the story of family really stole my heart, and Hannah was absolutely amazing. This is also a very sweet romance that was gentle and tender. It was approached with a great deal of maturity and understanding and was perfectly woven into the story.

Hannah is an art director for a magazine in NYC, but she’s off to Barbados with her boyfriend for her birthday. Until everything goes horribly wrong, including a call from her mother telling her to get home to Franklin, Tennessee immediately and a massive snowstorm and the truth about her boyfriend. After exhausting all of her options, Hannah takes an hours-long trip by car with two other souls headed the same way: Liam, a childhood friend, and Georgia, a woman hoping to find blood relatives.

Once in Franklin, the three new friends head their separate ways, but have formed a firm bond they’ll need as their time in Franklin stretches on. Hannah’s grandmother has been hospitalized, but is more concerned about the flower shop she’s had for years and insists Hannah fix it up. There are a number of problems, and Hannah is determined to make her grandmother happy, even if it means having to face difficult choices and maybe finding a new path in life.

The Memory Keeper is seriously one of the sweetest stories I’ve ever read. I adored the focus on family and friends and of finding oneself again. I also really liked that the romance felt natural and never overpowered the rest of the story. There were a few times when I thought Hannah spent more time with her love interest than with her hospitalized grandmother, but she seemed to be on a mission to heal as many lives and families as she could, so I found myself feeling quite forgiving.

The thing I loved the best about this novel was that it focused on coming home in more than one sense. Hannah has, for the first time in years, gone back to Tennessee and is spending time with her parents and grandmother. She is surrounded by new and old friends, and they all have gotten away from the things they loved when they were young, when they thought they had their lives figured out. But this story perfectly encapsulated finding oneself again. It was about these friends finding the courage to go back to what made them happy, the things they’re good at, the things they love in order to be truer to themselves and find happiness in their thirties.

I’m not a big romance reader, so I really appreciated that the romance in this novel wasn’t overpowering. It never overtook the story or became a major focus. It was important and played a big role in the overarching story, but it just progressed so organically, unfolded so realistically, that I really enjoyed it. I especially loved that the characters were honest and communicated really well with each other. They were mature and formed a close relationship that helped make the romance that much more believable.

The Memory Keeper was an incredible and easy read. It went almost too quickly. I loved everything about it, and can definitely see myself rereading it many times just to get back into the feel good heart of it. It was never too sweet and was entirely beautiful. I did feel a little too much of the book was focused on the trip to Tennessee, but, once we get there, it’s almost like an explosion of everything in a not-at-all chaotic way. The characters just have a lot to handle, and they handle it all with maturity.

I loved the characters in The Memory Keeper, and especially loved that the main characters were in their thirties. Actually, most of the characters were in their thirties or older. I really liked that they were settled in life, had experienced a thing or two, and had the ability to understand and figure out what was most meaningful to them in order to find happiness and satisfaction in life again.

Hannah was really the catalyst for everything. I adored her. She was bright and friendly and so stubborn. I wouldn’t mind having her as a best friend. She has one of those effervescent souls that just draws people in. She has a demanding job that I was, at first, bothered that she kept pushing off, but, as the story wore on, I was actually rooting for her to just focus on what was important to her and her family. I loved that she learned what life is all about, and the guidance her grandmother gave her.

Liam and Georgia were also incredible characters. Where one was serious and responsible, but not without his own problems, the other was almost too bright and flighty, but was so friendly and perky it was impossible to not like her. They all made an interesting trio, but really relied on each other throughout the book, making them incredible, unlikely friends.

The other characters were just as wonderfully crafted. Hannah’s parents were serious, but loving, and always there for her. They were incredibly wonderful supports. Her grandmother was also a wonderful pillar to Hannah. Even though she was hospitalized, she gifted Hannah a journal that helped flesh her out as an amazingly strong soul who was intent on guiding her granddaughter as much as humanly possible. Then there’s Ethan, Hannah’s best friend. I loved their interactions, which felt both prickly because of their past and warm, almost as though so many years and stubbornness hadn’t separated them.

While The Memory Keeper starts in busy, bustling NYC with it’s incredible mass of people, most of the novel is set in Tennessee. It’s a lovely foil to NYC as it’s smaller, quieter, and so much more friendlier.

I loved everything about Franklin, Tennessee. It was small and friendly, and I loved that it made me feel like I was in the South. The characterizations felt spot on, especially the accents and manner of speech some of the characters had. The people felt so warm and welcoming. I was actually really sad when the book ended because I fell in love with the setting so much. It was insanely picturesque.

The Memory Keeper felt like the epitome of a sweet, charming, feel good novel. I was delighted by it and feel an overwhelming need to reread it just so I can be immersed in the story and setting again. In a world that feels increasingly mad, it was so nice to feel surrounded by people with heart and strength of character, and a beautiful story of finding oneself and love, of coming home.

How many cups of tea will you need?

5 cups

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Thank you to author Jenny Hale and publicist Penny Sansavieri for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Head over to the Bookshelf to check out my reviews of books from the Big 5 and self-published, indie, and small press books.

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