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The One That Got Away by Stephanie Motes
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The One That Got Away

by Stephanie Motes

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‘The One That Got Away’ is the first book that I’ve read by both Stephanie Motes and Grace Moskola. Though it is the third work I’ve read with Motes name on it.

There was an odd kind of vibe to this book. Two immediate issues: the book really felt as if two 17 year olds were having something like a summer fling (though both used words indicating that they didn’t wish to have just a summer fling) in between college semesters (based on how the two acted, how the parents acted, at the time, and then later when they talked back about that summer). There is a huge deal made about how this was a great summer, a summer to have lived for, romance was in the air, etc. etc. But . . . it really felt like, instead of say three months, all the action seemed to have taken place over an extended weekend. That or, we went from, say, June to August in a flash, indicated by ‘summer is over now’ – I do recall that phrase used unexpectedly at one point. Seemed to be ‘summer’s here . . . *three seconds later* summer is over now.’

Tackling the first of the two ‘immediate’ issues – Christina Williams (heh, I didn’t recognize the name when I was looking at the book descriptions to make sure I got the names right – I didn’t recognize because she went mostly by Chris throughout the book) isn’t some 17 year old between college semesters. She’s a college graduate. It is true that she might be one of those people who graduated early, or something, but let’s just assume, for the sake of it, that she is between the ages of 21 and 22. I’m not actually sure how old Elizabeth Baker was supposed to be during that summer, though I guess she was supposed to be about the same age? Though her interactions with Chris seemed to make her seem younger than Chris somehow. Now granted 21/22 isn’t exactly a huge difference between it and 17/18; but one is considered fully adult, while the other isn’t even considered capable of being allowed to drink (depending on the legal jurisdiction).

Now the first ‘issue’ probably is my own fault for seeing them acting younger than I’d expect them to act. The second one . . . maybe I accidentally missed a section or something? I’m fairly sure I read everything, though, so I can’t pin this one on me. This ‘great summer’ fling appears to have occurred over a longish weekend, at least going by the activities that occurred. Which makes their abrupt and somewhat random decision to run away together seem even more bizarre.

Bah. I kind of distracted myself there. I’m not really sure what I’m attempting to write up above so let’s just skip ahead.

The book involves Christina “Chris” Williams and Elizabeth “Liz” Baker.

Chris is the daughter of a Senator, comes from a family with a lot of money, and has money of her own from a trust set up for her. When the book opens, Chris hasn’t really fully grasped the fact that others might have money issues. This comes up here or there. She’s a college graduate, but while there are aspects of her own independence attempting to shine through, she is still mostly under the thumb of her parents – at least at the start of the summer. Chris, her brother, her parents, and the siblings girlfriends are vacationing in a town in Florida. I say that the brother’s girlfriend is there as well, because comments are made about both of them having their girlfriends there. At some point, though, the brother leaves to go to training camp to prepare for the NFL draft, and presumably the girlfriend left as well – though the reader never got to meet that specific girlfriend (unless she is the same one that pops up when the brother returns for some party or other; though that woman isn’t the woman Chris spots going into the brothers room).

Leslie, though, is seen. She’s the long time girlfriend of Chris. There are even some POV scenes from her perspective. She comes from a well-to-do family, and is acceptable to Chris parents. She’s also in love with Chris, while Chris seems to have either never been in love or fallen out of love with Leslie. At some point she is sent packing by Chris. But that’s after Chris fools around with Liz. That’s right – Chris cheated on Leslie with Liz. Chris seems to feel bad about how everything went down, but also that she had the right to do it (though she did weepily explain things after the fact; or was it just Leslie who was weepy?). Numerous times Chris makes comments about what a jerk the brother is turning out to be now-a-days; wonder if Chris happened to ever look in a mirror, eh?

Liz Baker works as a waitress for a horrible horrible man who steals her tips in a somewhat run-down seafood restaurant in the town in Florida that the Williams family is vacationing in. She is a townie, and knows that vacationers look down on her kind. So she normally attempts to avoid vacationers. By vigorously throwing the Frisbee on resort beaches, but whatever. She at least says she normally tries to avoid vacationers. Oh, and to get back to that horrible boss? That’s Liz’s step-dad. Buster.

While Chris is experimenting with the concept of not always obeying every order her parents sent her way, by not going to the brunch, she is literally run into by a presumably bikini clad girl. Hell, for all I know she’s naked. Was her clothing described? Bah, it probably was and I just don’t recall now. No matter – the woman that ran into Chris is Liz. They start to hang out together. Candace, Chris’ mom, attempts to ‘make trouble’ for the pair, since Liz isn’t from a ‘respectable’ family, but the two still date.

Then . . . stuff happens and it’s something like ten years later and neither has seen the other, directly, since then.

Several issues, I have, with how they meet again – beyond the concept that neither went out of their way to push further to try to get to each other after the ‘incident’ occurred, neither were to blame for their separation. Yet, when they get back together, something happens that seems to happen too often in books like this. One’s pissed off, angry, unable to ever again trust the other; the other is apologetic and gives every indication that they were to blame – without ever noting that they also had some issues (Somewhere near the end of summer, Chris somewhat randomly suggests that they run off together. Liz thinks she is joking. Chris shows her bank account balance, and then to show she is serious, adds Liz to her account (which has $20,000 in it). They plan to run off to NY and live together. There’s some long ass break between making these plans and leaving (for whatever the fuck sake; seems to have been there so that there could be both advance notice given to the parents (by third parties), and an intervention by one of the parents). Chris is at the airport. She’s wondering where Liz is. They were going to meet there. She decides to get some money from the ATM. Using her card (as opposed to her parent’s card). Her balance, as shown, is $0. Chris calls the bank. The bank says that Liz Baker had come in and cleaned out the account. Chris now believes Liz was . . . um . . .money hungry?

Meanwhile, Liz and her gay male friend (and, while I don’t plan to discussing him, I need to take a moment that he initially started off in my mind as a cliché gay man; but he actually was rather well constructed) are frantically rushing to the airport to make the plan. Then they run around the airport looking for the correct gate. Find the gate. Do not find Chris. Talk to the ticket person to learn that Chris had already left – on a different flight, and not to NY. Liz now believes Chris was just playing her.

Dejectedly Liz returns to restaurant. Whereupon Candace suddenly appears. Gives the deed to the restaurant to Liz. Notes that Chris has a good heart, but is flighty. And that Chris had seen Liz and wanted to ‘save her’. But then her tiny brain turned to something else to play with. So, here’s the deed to the restaurant. Liz now believes that Chris is flighty and untrustworthy.

Chris? Still thinks that Liz stole her money.

Flash forward 10 years. Liz still feels Chris in her heart, but has trouble reconnecting. Because Chris is untrustworthy and flighty. Chris? Absolutely apologetic about how everything that went down. Mentions that she only just learned of the mother’s intervention. Makes no comment about how she had been lead, by her mother, to believe that Liz stole the money. Does not correct the impression that she is untrustworthy and flighty. WTF?

All that apologetic crap Chris got into? It’s as if she was trying to get back together with Leslie – that’s who she should be apologizing to.
)

Right. So. I don’t like any of the people connected to Liz except for Buddy the gay friend. I mean from the summer part of the story. Joel and Terry from the second half of the story are good enough side characters. I don’t like anyone from Chris side of the story, except possibly Leslie. I’m not 100% sure I like either of the two leads. They appear a little too immature, even at 32 in the second half of the story.

April 15 2016 ( )
  Lexxi | Jun 26, 2016 |
Fantastic book! I loved the character interactions and I cannot wait for the next book! ( )
  BL_Clark | Jun 1, 2015 |
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