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How to Walk Away: A Novel

How to Walk Away: A Novel

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How to Walk Away: A Novel

4/5 (141 avaliações)
398 página
5 horas
Lançado em:
May 15, 2018


From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there's her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there's Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won't let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best—a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

Praise for How to Walk Away:

"A heartbreak of a novel that celebrates resilience and strength." —Jill Santopolo, bestselling author of The Light We Lost

"If you just read one book this year, read How to Walk Away." —Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop

"Warm, witty, and wonderfully observed." —Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love

"Sympathetic and refreshing!" —Elinor Lipman, bestselling author of The Family Man

"I can't think of a blurb good enough for this novel...poignant, funny, heartbreaking." —Jenny Lawson, bestselling author of Furiously Happy

Lançado em:
May 15, 2018

Sobre o autor

Katherine Center is the author of several novels about love and family: The Bright Side of Disaster, Everyone Is Beautiful, Get Lucky, and The Lost Husband. Her books and essays have appeared in Redbook, People, USA Today, Vanity Fair, and Real Simple—as well as the anthologies Because I Love Her, CRUSH, and My Parents Were Awesome. Katherine is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. She lives in Houston with her husband and two sweet children.

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How to Walk Away - Katherine Center



THE BIGGEST IRONY about that night is that I was always scared to fly.

Always. Ever since I was old enough to think about it.

It seemed counterintuitive. Even a little arrogant. Why go up when gravity clearly wanted us to stay down?

Back in high school, my parents took my big sister, Kitty, and me to Hawaii one year. I dreaded the flight from the moment they told us until well after we were home again. The phrase flying to Hawaii translated in my head to drowning in the ocean. The week before the trip, I found myself planning out survival strategies. One night after lights out, I snuck to Kitty’s room and climbed into her bed.

I was a freshman, and she was a senior, which gave her a lot of authority.

What’s the plan? I demanded.

Her face was half buried in the pillow. The plan for what?

For when the plane hits.

She opened an eye. Hits what?

The ocean. On the way to Hawaii.

She held my gaze for a second. That’s not going to happen.

I have a bad feeling, I said.

Now you’re jinxing us.

This is serious. We need a survival strategy.

She reached out and patted my bangs. There is no survival strategy.

There has to be.

No. She shook her head. Because if we don’t crash, we won’t need one. And if we do crash… She paused so I could catch her drift.

We won’t need one?

A nod. We’ll just be dead. Then she snapped her fingers.

You make it sound easy.

"Dying is easy. It’s not dying that’s hard."

Guess you have a point there.

She closed her eyes. That’s why I’m the brains of the family.

I thought I was the brains, I said, nudging her.

She rolled away. You know you’re the beauty.

Impossibly, we survived that trip.

Just as impossibly, I survived many more trips after that, never hitting anything worse than turbulence. I’d read the statistics about how flying was the safest of all the modes of transportation—from cars to trains to gondolas. I’d even once interned at an office right next to an international airport and watched planes go up and come down all day long with nary a problem. I should have been long over it.

But I never could lose the feeling that flying and crashing were kind of the same thing.

Now, years later, I was dating—seriously dating—a guy who was just days away from getting his pilot’s license. Dating him so seriously, in fact, that on this particular Saturday, as we headed out to celebrate my not-yet-but-almost-official new dream job, I could not shake the feeling that he was also just about to ask me to marry him. Like, any second.

Which is why I was wearing a strapless black sundress.

If I’d thought about it, I might have paused to wonder how my boyfriend, the impossibly fit and charming Charles Philip Dunbar, could be one hundred percent perfect for me in every possible way—and also be such an air travel enthusiast. He never thought twice about flying at all—or doing anything scary, for that matter, like scuba diving or bungee jumping. He had an inherent faith in the order of the universe and the principles of physics and the right of mankind to bend those principles to its will.

Me, I’d always suspected that chaos was stronger than order. When it was Man against Nature, my money was on Nature every time.

You just never paid attention in science class, Chip always said, like I was simply under-informed.

True enough. But that didn’t make me wrong.

Chip believed that his learning to fly was going to cure my fears. He believed that he’d become so awesome and inspiring that I’d have no choice but to relax and enjoy it.

On this, we had agreed to disagree.

I will never, ever fly with you, I’d announced before his first lesson.

You think that now, but one day you’ll beg me to take you up.

I shook my head, like, Nope. Not really a beggar.

Not yet.

Now, he was almost certified. He’d done both his solo and his solo cross-country. He’d completed more than twice his required hours of flight training, just to be thorough. All that remained? His Check Ride, where a seasoned pilot would go up with him and put him in stressful situations.

Don’t tell me what they are, I’d said.

But he told me anyway.

Like, they deliberately stall the plane, and you have to cope, he went on, very pleased at the notion of his impressive self-coping. Or you do a short-field landing, where you don’t have enough space. And of course: night flying.

The Check Ride was next week. He’d be fine. Chip was the kind of guy who got calmer when things were going haywire. He’d make a perfect pilot. And I’d be perfectly happy for him to fly all he wanted. By himself.

But first, we were getting engaged—or so I hoped. Possibly tonight. On Valentine’s.

I can’t tell you how I knew, exactly. I’d just sensed it all day, somehow, the way you can sense it’s going to rain. By the time I buckled in beside him in his Jeep, I was certain.

I’d known Chip a long time. We’d been dating for three years. I knew every expression in his repertoire and every angle of his body. I knew when he was faking a laugh, or when he was bullshitting. I could tell in seconds if he liked a person or not. And I certainly knew when he was hiding something—especially something he was excited about. Even though this date seemed exactly like every other date we’d ever had, I just knew something big was about to happen.

I figured he’d take us to the Italian place with the twinkle lights where we’d had our first date. But, instead of heading for downtown, he turned toward the freeway and ramped up.

The top was off his Jeep. I clamped my arms down over my hair. Where are we going? I called.

He called back, It’s a surprise!

My stomach dropped at that. Once again, I knew Chip’s intentions without his even hinting. This was kind of a problem with us. I could read him too well. He wasn’t taking me to dinner. He was taking me to the airport.

*   *   *

TWENTY MINUTES LATER, we had left the city of Austin far behind. He pulled up the parking brake beside an airplane hangar at a private airfield in the middle of nowhere.

I looked around. You can’t be serious.

He leaned in. Are you surprised?

Yes and no.

Just pretend. Just once, I’d like to surprise you.

Fine. I’m shocked. I’m awed.

Don’t pretend that much.

He came around to my side and took me by the hand, and then he pulled me behind him, bent over all sneaky, around to the far side of the hangar.

I followed him in a state of cognitive dissonance—knowing exactly what he was doing while insisting just as clearly that he couldn’t possibly be doing it. Are you sneaking me in here? I whispered.

It’s fine. My friend Dylan did it with his girlfriend last week.

I tugged back against his hand. Chip. I can’t!

Sure you can.

Is this—illegal?

I just want to show you my plane.

It’s not your plane, buddy.

Close enough.

I had zero interest in seeing his plane. Less than zero. I was interested in wine and appetizers and candlelight. I almost had the job of my dreams! I wanted to be celebrating. I was in the mood to feel good, not bad. Can’t we just go to dinner?

He peered around, then turned back to me. "Anybody can go to dinner."

I’m cool with being anybody.

I’m not.

Then, with a coast-is-clear shrug, he pulled me out across the pavement and stopped in front of a little white Cessna. It looked like the kind of plane you’d see in a cartoon—wings up high, body below, and a spinny little propeller nose. Very patriotic, too. Red, white, and blue stripes.

Cute, I said with a nod, like, Great. We’re done.

But he took my shoulders and pointed me toward the cockpit.

I took a step back. What are you doing?

Let’s go for a ride.

I’m afraid to fly. Remember?

Time to get over that.

I’ll throw up. I’ll be motion-sick.

Not with me, you won’t be.

It’s not about you. It’s about flying.

You just need the right pilot.

I was shaking my head—half disbelief, half refusal. You’re not even certified.

I’m as good as certified. I’ve done everything there is.

Except take the test.

"But the test is just to see what you’ve already learned."

"Chip? No."

"Margaret? Yes. And right now before they catch us."

The force of his insistence was almost physical, like a strong wind you have to brace against. He wanted to do this. He wanted me to do this—to show faith in him, to believe in him. It wasn’t a test, exactly, but it was still something I could fail.

I wasn’t a person who failed things.

I was a person who aced things.

It felt like a big moment. It felt draped in metaphorical significance about bravery, and trust, and adventurousness—like it would reveal something essential about who I was and how I’d live the rest of my whole life. Saying no to flying right now suddenly felt like saying no to every possibility forever. Did I want to be a person who let minuscule statistical risks undermine any sense of bravery? Was this a challenge I couldn’t rise to? Was I going to let fear make me small?

I’m not sure I ever really had a choice. Chip was Chip. He was my perfect man, and I’d thought so ever since his parents moved in next door to my parents, back when we were both in college. Our mothers became best next-door-neighbor friends, drinking wine on the patio and gossiping, but I only saw him on vacations. In the summers, his dad made him mow the lawn, and I’d stand at our window and watch. One time, my mom urged me to take him out a bottle of water, and he glugged the whole thing down in one swoop. I still remember it in slow-mo.

But I really didn’t know him at all until we both wound up at business school together back home in Austin by accident. I was team leader of our study group, and he worked under me, which was good for him.

That’s how we fell in love.

I’d have married him that first night we kissed, if he’d asked me. He was that kind of guy. Tall, clean-shaven, blond, all-American, high-achieving, confident. And dreamy. People did what he wanted. I felt lucky to be with him, and I’d doodled Margaret Dunbar more times than I’ll ever admit. I once Googled dog breeds for our future pet. And one night, when shopping for something else—I swear—on the Home Depot website, I clicked on a little pop-up box for wood fence pickets. Just to see how much they were.

Now we were both out of school with our brand-new MBAs, both about to start our new jobs—Chip as an entry-level financial analyst at an investment bank, a job he found through a friend of his dad, and me as a business development manager for an oil and gas company called Simtex Petroleum. His job was good, but mine was far better, and I thought it was sporting of him, and rather gallant, to be so happy for me.

In truth, I wasn’t even qualified for my new job. It required five years of experience in the sector, advanced knowledge of bidding for commercial contracts, and actual international experience, none of which I had—but my B-school mentor had gone out on a limb for me, calling in a favor from a friend and writing a stunning letter of recommendation that called me a fiercely energetic forward thinker, a problem solver, an excellent communicator, and a team player with strong business and financial acumen.

I’d laughed when he’d showed me the job listing. I’m not remotely qualified for this.

People get jobs they’re not qualified for all the time.

I stared at the description. They want ‘demonstrated strategic and higher operational level engagement with the logistics environment.’

You’re a shoo-in.

I’m a joke.

Now you’re just thinking like a girl.

"I am a girl."

We need to remedy that.

I gave him a look.

When you go to this interview, I want you to pretend to be a man.

I closed my eyes. Pretend to be a man.

"A badass man, he confirmed. A man who’s not just qualified, but overqualified."

I shook my head at him.

Qualifications, he said, pale in the face of confidence.

If you say so, I said. Though I didn’t believe it for a second. I went into the interview that day fully expecting to be laughed out of the room. But I did what he told me to. I pretended like hell—if nothing else, to prove him wrong.

Then they offered me the job. Or, at least, as the HR guy walked me to the lobby, he touched my shoulder and said, It’s not official, but you’ve got it.

My starting salary was going to be 50K higher than Chip’s—but my mother told me not to tell him that. The important thing was: We were beginning our lives. Things were falling into place.

And here, at the airfield, I didn’t want to be the only thing that didn’t.

Chip squeezed my hands. You trust me, right?

Yes. Sort of.

Then he pulled me into a kiss—a manly, determined, all-this-can-be-yours kiss, digging his tongue into my mouth in a way that he clearly found powerful and erotic, but that I, given how the sheer terror of what I was about to do had iced my blood, was too numb to feel.

Then he swatted me on the butt and said, Climb in.

What can I say? I did it.

But I’m telling you, my hands were shaking.

As I worked on hooking the shoulder strap, I gave myself a stern talking-to: This was the right thing to do. Wasn’t that what love was, after all? Saying yes—not just when it was easy, but also when it was hard?

Of course, any analyst worth her degree could have easily made the exact opposite argument: that I should trust my gut, and I shouldn’t let Chip push me into doing things I didn’t want to do. That his lack of respect for my genuine discomfort in the face of his Top Gun fantasies did not bode well for our long-term prospects.

But I wasn’t going there.

I was going flying.

Then he was next to me, buckling up and handing me a set of black headphones. I had that feeling you get once you’ve picked a roller coaster seat and clamped yourself in.

Chip immediately shifted into character as the pilot. He slid his aviator sunglasses on and pressed the headphone mic so close to his mouth that his lips brushed against it, and started speaking a language to the control tower so specialized, it was basically nonsense: South Austin Clearance Delivery—Cessna Three Two Six Tango Delta Charlie with information Juliet—VFR to Horseshoe Bay cruising three thousand three hundred.

It sounded to me like he was pretending. Who talked like that? But the tower didn’t agree. Crackling through the headphones came Cessna Three Two Six Tango Delta Charlie—South Austin Clearance—squawk two three one four, departure frequency will be one two zero point niner.

Oh, shit. This was happening.

Chip checked instruments and dials, looking them over like a pro. He looked at ease. Capable. Trustworthy. Macho, too. And, dammit, yes: super cool.

I already went through my safety checklist before I came to get you—twice, he said. His voice was crackly through the headphones, but he took my hand and squeezed. Didn’t want to give you time to change your mind.


But I was all in by this point. I’d made my choice. For better or worse, as they say.

So Chip turned his attention to bigger things.

Still in sexy-pilot mode, he spoke into the mic and gave another nonsense message to the tower, confirming that we were waiting for the runway. I’d never been in the cockpit of a plane before, and this plane was all cockpit. Technically, there were two seats behind us, but it felt like we were in a Matchbox car.

Another plane had to land before we could take off, and I studied the dashboard with all its knobs and dials and ’ometers. I pointed at it. Isn’t this kind of tall? It was higher than my head. I could barely see over.

He nodded. It’s not like driving a car, he explained, where it’s all about what you see. Flying’s more instrument based.

You don’t look out the windshield?

You do, but you’re looking at the instruments and gauges just as much. It’s half looking, half math.

The other plane touched down, slowed, and trundled past us. See? I said to myself. They survived. We revved up, Chip announced us again over the radio, and he started working the pedals to bring us into position. The blades on the propeller spun so fast they disappeared. The plane vibrated and hummed. I sat on my cold hands so I wouldn’t squeeze them into fists.

Please don’t do any loop-de-loops or anything, I said then.

He glanced over. Loop-de-loops?

Spins or flips. Or whatever. Show-offy stuff.

I don’t have to show off for you, he said.

You sure don’t.

You already know how awesome I am.

I gave a nod. Yes. And also, I might throw up.

We sped up, casting ourselves forward. As we lifted off, I decided it wasn’t that different from going up in a regular plane. A little bumpier, maybe. A smidge more front-and-center. A tad more Out of Africa.

The ground floated away beneath us. Easy.

Chip was focused and calm, and it was so strange to think he was making it all happen. Once we were airborne, he started narrating everything he was doing, as if he were giving me a lesson. He told me the Cessna 172 was the most popular plane ever built. A classic. We would level off at 3,000 feet. We’d be traveling 125 miles an hour, speeding up as the air thinned out so we didn’t stall. He had to scan the sky for other planes, as well as watch the radar on the screen for towers.

Then something disturbing: He mentioned that the fuel was in the wings.

That seems like bad engineering, I said. What if the wings break off? You’ll get doused in fuel.

The wings don’t break off, Chip said. That’s not a thing.

"But if they did."

If they did, you’ve got bigger problems than a fuel spill.

I put my hands in my lap and deliberately arranged them so they would not look clenched.

The plane was loud—hence the headphones—and we vibrated more in the air than we had on the ground, especially when we passed under a cloud. Chip explained that clouds actually sit on columns of rising air, and that turbulence happens when you cut through those columns. I had never thought of clouds as sitting on anything—just floating—but once he said it, it made sense. The more sense he made, the safer I felt.

He grinned over at me. Awesome, huh?

Kind of. Awesome.

Still scared?

Yes. Nope.

Glad you came?

I’ll be gladder once we’re back on the ground.

I knew you’d enjoy it. I knew you could be brave if you tried.

Such an odd compliment. As if he’d never seen me be brave before. As if my capacity for bravery had been up for debate.

But I did feel braver now, as we rose above the subdivisions laid out like a mosaic below us.

The hardest part was over, I remember thinking.

Before long, the suburbs beneath us thinned out, and I realized I had no idea where he was taking me.

Where are we going? I asked.

I’m just going to show you one quick thing, Chip said, and then we’ll turn back around and go home.

I could see that up ahead, dark and jagged, was a body of water.

Is that Horseshoe Bay? I asked. My grandparents had a house there. I’d been there a million times, but I’d never seen it from this angle.

Chip nodded. You guessed it.

We were approaching the far shore. What do you want to show me?

Wait and see.

Chip angled us back to circle over the lake, brought our altitude down a bit, and maneuvered us closer to the water. I could see houses and little cars below, but it was hard to recognize anything from this bird’s-eye view. We dipped a little lower, close enough to see little waves breaking against the shore.

Keep an eye on the beach, he said, taking us lower still.

I peered out my window. A thin strip of sand, and people, and picnic tables on the grass nearby. Now I recognized it. The public beach on the far shore.

After a few minutes, he said, There! and pointed.

I looked. Where?

Can you read it? Chip asked.

Read what?

He peered down, out his side window. Shit. We’re too high.

But any lower made the towers on the radar turn red.

Chip turned my way. There’s writing in the sand down there.

I didn’t see anything. What does it say?

It says, ‘Marry me!’

My heart gave a little jolt, but I played it cool. It does? I couldn’t see any writing in the sand.

I saw it on the news yesterday. A guy proposed by writing the words in giant letters in the sand with rocks, then taking his girlfriend for a picnic by the lake to surprise her.

Cool, I said, like it was just empirically interesting. What were we talking about?

I really wanted you to see those words.

You did?

I did. He glanced over again. Because I’ve been wanting to ask you the same question.

It’s one thing to expect something to happen, or root for it, or hope—and it’s another thing entirely to live the actual moment. I put my hand to my mouth and pressed my head to the window one more time for a better look.

And there’s something else. Open the glove box.

Sure enough, there was a little storage compartment in front of me. Inside, I found an emerald-green velvet ring box.

I was so glad I’d forced myself into this plane. Sometimes, terrifying, nausea-inducing risks are worth it. I turned to Chip. You’re asking me to marry you?

His voice crackled out through the headphones. But I knew the answer was yes.

So I gave my own answer. Yes!

You haven’t even opened the box.

I don’t need to. Just: Yes!

Chip turned toward me with a big smile full of perfect teeth. I could see myself reflected in his sunglasses, and my hair was a mess. I fought the urge to straighten it up. I also fought the urge to climb over and kiss him. It seemed strange not to kiss at a moment like that, but no way was I unbuckling. I couldn’t even remember how to unhook the shoulder strap.

Instead, I gave him a thumbs-up.

It’s not official till you put on the ring, he

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  • (3/5)
    I really enjoy Katherine Center's writing style. She is terrific at creating characters who feel real and are relatable and usually pretty likable. I had a little trouble with this book - I think I had a hard time with the premise - but her writing makes reading go quickly and I will look forward to her next book!
  • (5/5)
    This book is more than a love story. It is about courage, strength and overcoming all which life throws your way. And believe me, Margaret has just taken a huge hit. She has just been in a plane crash. And yes she survived, but her back and her life as she knew it, did not.There is a double meaning in the title of this book. Margaret has been paralyzed, so she can't just "walk" away. But she learns to deal with walking away from all she knew and discovering the new path her life is now headed.I love this book! I love Margaret and her family, especially her sister, Kitty. Kitty is a straight shooter, rough around the edges and she definitely has her sister's back plus, she has her own little story line through out this read. Then, there is Margaret and Ian, her Scottish physical therapist. These two have a chemistry not to be ignored. I enjoyed the way the author intertwined all these story lines. There are several running through this read and they all intersect to create a sad, courageous, love-filled tale.I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
  • (5/5)
    This book reminded me a little of "Me Before You" with the paraplegic story. However, the details and story are very different. Maggie has everything going for her. The perfect job is said to be hers, she's got a great boyfriend, and a very rosy future. Then on the same day she gets engaged, she is involved in a plane crash. The results are life changing, forever.I loved going on this journey with Maggie as she tries to figure things out during the 5 1/2 weeks of hospital stay that the insurance will pay for. Her whole life has changed and she's not really in the best of moods or abilities to consider what will happen in the future.I laughed, I cried, I was thoroughly entertained. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the aforementioned book and to anyone who likes to read a really good story.As for the fiancee, Yuck, is the only nice word I can think about calling him right now. Ha!!Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book! Picked it up this morning to see what it was about and just finished it! The perfect book to read on the first day of June. Totally neglected my chores but so worth it.
  • (5/5)
    The premise here is a young lady is taken by her not yet licensed boyfriend up in a plane that crashes during a storm leaving her badly burned and paralyzed. He was asking her to marry him at the time. This changes everything. This is a pretty intricate plot for a romance novel with many twists and turns Usually a cliched plot like this would strike me as corny. This book is pretty corny (ending) but I liked it anyway. It all goes to the author's ability to get the reader vested in the characters which the author does quite well.
  • (4/5)
    CONTEMPORARY FICTIONKatherine CenterHow to Walk Away: A NovelSt. Martin’s PressHardcover, 978-1-2501-4906-0, (also available as an e-book, an audiobook, and on Audible), 320 pgs., $26.99May 15, 2018Margaret Jacobsen has her fingertips on the brass ring. She’s the beautiful, dutiful younger daughter of Anglo, upper-middle-class strivers in Austin, Texas, possessor of a brand-new MBA degree, favored candidate for a dream job, and certain her longtime boyfriend, Chip, is going to propose to her today. The only clouds in Margaret’s sky are an estranged older sister and an intense fear of flying, which is unfortunate because her phobia may limit their choice of honeymoon destinations and Chip is in the process of earning a pilot’s license.Margaret was right; Chip did propose to her—after bullying her, in that jocular but insistent manner every woman on the planet will recognize, into the cockpit of the Cessna he had been training in and promptly crashing it, the plane cartwheeling before wedging in a ditch and catching fire. Chip escapes but Margaret must be cut out of the wreckage, requiring skin grafts, questioning whether she’ll walk again.How to Walk Away: A Novel is the latest work of contemporary fiction from Houston’s Katherine Center. A graduate of the University of Houston’s renowned creative writing program, Center has published six novels. As is Center’s specialty, How to Walk Away is sweet without the sap, an uplifting, feel-good tale without being predictable.Initially I thought Margaret’s wisecracking in the immediate aftermath of a spinal cord injury incongruous (“They say everybody loses time in the ICU. It’s basically Vegas in there, minus the showgirls and slot machines.”), but then I realized her first-person narrative is a fictional memoir, told from the remove of a decade. In the beginning, Margaret is a likeable enough character—if lacking in backbone—a generic yuppie aspiring to McMansion-hood, but she tells her story from the future as a transformed woman, a nuanced, sympathetic character.The remainder of the cast have fewer dimensions than Margaret and don’t receive the same opportunities for growth, but are interesting and entertaining, nevertheless. Margaret’s father is understood to be active behind the scenes; her mother is almost insufferable (“[Mom] could always find the downside. And she had no filter, so once she found it, everybody else had to find it, too.”); Chip proves to be an asinine coward of breathtaking selfishness (“Do you know I escaped that crash without a scratch?” Chip said … “the plane is totaled. You … are totaled.”); Ian the Scottish physical therapist is appropriately brooding and mysterious; older sister Kit makes her energetic, grand re-entrance as a breath of fresh air.Center’s writing is markedly emotionally astute—I suspect she was a psychoanalyst in a former life. Her families are authentically complicated, her characters’ interactions fraught with the disconnect between heart and mind. Center is particularly good at conveying shock and grief, employing a blend of sardonic nonchalance that should be patented. Center’s technique allows the devastation to sneak up on you. When you begin feeling too relaxed, understand that you’re about to get smacked with a doozy of a plot twist.How to Walk Away is quickly and evenly paced. Subplots involving the estranged sister, a difficult mother, the hospital edition of office politics, and the possibility of new romance service the main plot line instead of distracting from it.How to Walk Away is recommended reading for your summer vacation, whether you take it to the beach or your backyard hammock.Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life.
  • (4/5)
    Yes, this book may have some parts that might seem a bit unlikely or even impossible to be real, but I found it a delightful and pleasant distraction. In Margaret, we find a smart, beautiful, but pliant woman character. She is willing to put up with somewhat less than in her man, but is ready to begin her dream life and seems well on the way. That dream comes literally crashing to an end when her brand new fiancee finds that his flying experience isn't quite as skillful as he thinks.Most of the book deals with Margaret's time in the hospital recovering, and her relationships as well as those within her family. One of the most interesting relationships is that between Margaret and her sullen yet intriguing Scottish physical therapist. Her family's relationships are also put to the test during her recovery. The book follows a tried and true story line in a way that worked well for me. I enjoyed the read from start to finish and reveled in the ending as karma once again comes out the winner.The characters were well fleshed out and in most cases appealing, which is one of the reasons I found the book so readable. In reference to the title, the whole premise of Margaret's recovery was to be able to walk away. She ends up doing so, not with her feet, rather with her heart which leads her straight into her best life.I definitely recommended this book. It is an interesting love story that deals with so much more than a simple boy-girl connection. If you enjoy rooting for the underdog, this might be the book for you. In the end you will walk away happy just like the characters.My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
  • (4/5)
    One of the best take-away messages from a book that I can remember: "When you don't know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else."
  • (5/5)
    Such a sweet book. Not great literature but a wonderful story and good message.
  • (5/5)
    I received this book as an ARC and couldn't wait to start it as all the reviews were great! I agree with the reviews. You go through all the emotions while reading this from beginning to end. I did find the book a little predictable except for the end. The end was really good and didn't leave you wondering. I would recommend this book to everyone I know. I read this book in 3 days.
  • (3/5)
    2.5 If you look at the average rating and glowing reviews of this book, you will soon realize I am definitely in the minority with my opinion. Excepting for one friend in the sisters group, everyone else loved it. Fluffy reads, feel good reads, they definitely have a place for many, after a heavy read, or sad read, we all need something to lighten our day. I can't say I didn't enjoy parts of this, I did. Some of the characters were great and I am always drawn to a good looking Scotsman. The author has z natural, easy flowing talent with words.I felt, however, that the jovial tone didn't match some of the tragic happenings in the plot. Even in my lighter reads I need a certain amount of credibility, realism, need things to make sense and I had serious questions about some of the happenings here. For me this went beyond feel good, to over the top, it was just too, too everything.....The ending so beautifully packaged, tied in a big bow. Seriously, whose life follows this pattern? So, yes I may be in the minority, but it's just how I felt. Don't let my review put you off reading this,unless your name is Irene, lol, I am probably just not the right reader for this type of book. ARC from Netgalley.
  • (5/5)
    #WalkAwayGirlfriend #HowToWalkAwayI was so lucky to receive this book from St. Martin's Press.I started reading it in the evening and without realizing it, was 100 pages in. I don't even remember turning the pages. I didn't so much read the book as flow into the book.Such a moving, tragic, lovely, sad, happy, beautiful story. The writing is so authentic, so smooth. The characters are wonderful, the good and the bad. It is realistic. It is uplifting. I want to read it again right now. I can honestly say that this book will make my top five list of forever. If you can only read one book this summer, read this one. Then read it next summer again....you will want to.
  • (5/5)
    My Review of “How to Walk Away” by Katherine Center St. Martins Press Publishing Date, May 29,2018“How to Walk Away” by Katherine Center is an amazing, captivating, riveting, intriguing and intense novel. I appreciate Katherine Center’s detailed descriptive writing, that makes this story feel so very real.The Genres of this story are Fiction, Women’s Fiction, with an essence of Romance. The timeline for the story is mostly in the present, and goes back a few years when it pertains to the characters of events.The author describes the characters, their problems and their emotions vividly. A few of the characters are not likable, but shallow, and capable of betrayal. A few of the characters are courageous, strong, loyal, and brave. There are some deep secrets that can destroy everyone involved.Margaret Jacobson, seems to have everything in life that she has wanted. Margaret has recently graduated college, and has a fantastic job, a fiancée, and all great things to look forward to. Until she doesn’t. The night that her boyfriend proposes to her becomes the best and worst night of her life.After a tragic accident, Margaret realizes that nothing is the same at all. As she fights for her life, she realizes that she will have to have hope, faith, and be strong in her journey to get well. I love the way the author describes the importance of family , love, emotional support, hope, faith, and forgiveness. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review. I would recommend this heart-breaking , and heartwarming novel for readers of Women’s Fiction.Share
  • (3/5)
    With 'How to Walk Away', Katherine Center expertly places us in a nightmare situation. Most writers give us broad brushstrokes, but Center also captures the tiniest details that trigger all our senses. I have no doubt that a ton of research went into the writing of this book, yet at no point did I feel overwhelmed by detail. Instead, details are sprinkled throughout as needed, in a way that brings the story to life without weighing it down.The story is written in first person, from Margaret's viewpoint. We get to know her well, and the first person writing allows us to really experience the vast emotions along with her. Most of the other characters feel a little flat. I loved Kit, Margaret's sister, who is quirky and full of life. For me, she is the star of the supporting cast. The other characters fill a role but don't stand out on their own. I never felt romance between Margaret and her fiance Chip. For Margaret, marrying Chip appeared to be more about winning a prize. I'm not sure what Chip got out of it, though it felt more like a conquest than actual love for him. I would have liked a better connection within their relationship, so I could feel the emotion behind all the events playing out. As it stands, Margaret's mother appears more distraught by the situation than the couple themselves.I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll just say the serious nature of Margaret's struggle feels downplayed by the fluff of relationships surrounding and including her. Overall, this is an entertaining read with powerful content that is sometimes overpowered by a chick-lit feel.*I received an advance copy from the publisher, via BookishFirst, in exchange for my honest review.*
  • (4/5)
    I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (St. Martin’s Press).This book tackles the heavy subject of ending up paralyzed after an airplane crash. When I first started reading this I felt very sad for the main character, Margaret. Her situation was very depressing. But luckily the book didn’t continue down that path. It got pretty uplifting about a 1/3 of the way in. I really enjoyed seeing Margaret’s state of mind change throughout her recovery. It was really inspiring. Often times I stopped and thought about what I would do in her situation. I loved the love interest, Ian. I liked that he did have his faults, which made him feel real. So many times books like these have a “Mr. Perfect” type of love interest, so I was very happy to see that Ian was different. As for the other characters, I really liked Margaret’s sister, Kitty. She was such a fun character. I also really liked that the book was realistic. Like I mentioned previously, Ian felt like a realistic love interest, but besides that, the way Margaret’s condition was handled felt very realistic as well. It could have gone down the “miracle” route, but didn’t. The author did a great job highlighting the reality of Margaret’s injury and did it proper justice. The writing style was also superb. It was written in a very easy-going, conversational manner, which made it a joy to read.Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The realistic characters and realistic portrayal of life in a wheelchair combined with great writing makes this book a hit!
  • (5/5)
    I do not know what it was that initially drew me to this book, How to Walk Away. I think I was just looking for a good book in the genre of Women’s Fiction. Regardless of the reason, I am extremely glad that I did request an early reviewer’s copy of this story because I enjoyed it immensely! At the start of this story the main character describes in detail one of her fears and that makes it plain what is going to come next which I was not too fond of. There were no shocking twists in this story to keep the reader “glued” to the pages, which may be a turn off to some readers. What really engaged me was the attention to detail in this story and the relationships between characters.Margaret Jacobson’s life took a tumultuous turn and everything that she hoped and dreamed for seemed to be gone in an instant. The story is told from Margaret’s point of view and I appreciated that she didn’t quite understand the ramifications of what had taken place right away. She understood what had happened but the expectations of how that would affect her life took time to unfurl because there was a period of time that she had to progress through before she truly knew what her new “reality” was going to be. This book focuses mostly on that period of time.This book made me feel. I felt for the main character because what she had to endure was nightmarish and I am not just talking about her recovery but the emotional parts of it as well. There were characters who were pretty awful at the start but grew to be quite wonderful by the time the story ended. There were also a couple of characters that I would have appreciated getting their “just deserts” because they were loathsome. My favorite character was Margaret’s sister Kit and I loved the relationship that developed between them. Although they were estranged at the start, Kit was there when she was needed even though she was not wanted and I loved her for everything she did despite her initial reception. I also liked the relationship that developed between Ian and Margaret. He seemed like a real jerk but he never pitied her and he was exactly what she needed, even if he was nothing like what she wanted.I was surprised by the ending because it was not what I expected. It was bittersweet in its own way but very, very lovely as well. This story touches on many tough subjects but is witty in its telling. Many times, I found myself laughing at the banter between the characters or at Margaret’s internal monologuing. I cannot tell you how much I loved the humorous sarcasm that is sprinkled throughout this story! There are so many wonderful moments in How to Walk Away that this story just called to me! I was not expecting to love this story but I absolutely did and it is a book that I highly recommend to all readers!This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
  • (5/5)
    I received a free advance e-copy of this book and have chosen to write an honest and unbiased review. I have no personal affiliation with the author. Margaret has a tragic life altering accident. The author walks us through her struggles, fears, and emotions as she fights to continue on and shape a new life for herself with strong support from the sister from whom she has been estranged for three years. She falters but never loses hope or her will to continue on her own terms. At times this story is heartbreaking. There are surprises and laugh out loud moments. A family secret that has been buried for years surfaces and nearly tears the family apart. This is a well-written story about how we falter and fall down at times and then how we pick ourselves up and continue on. This is a book everyone should read. I look forward to reading more from Katherine Center in the future.
  • (5/5)
    How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is an absolutely amazing book and nearly impossible to adequately describe or characterize. When I received an ARC in the mail from St. Martin’s Press I didn’t really know what the story was about. A break up, an abusive marriage? I thought it would be the usual entertaining, run-of-the-mill chick lit. Well, entertaining – mesmerizing, actually – it most definitely was. But run of the mill it most definitely was not.On the surface it’s the story of a terrible accident and what happens in the aftermath. But it’s so much more than that. Parts of it are so sad you want to sob, but then again parts of it are happy. Not fairy-tale she-got-the-prince-and-lived-happily-ever-after happy, but happy. And full of droll humor, wit, a bit of sarcasm and scenes to make you so mad you could spit.Margaret was always the good girl, the smart one, the one who tried hardest, and it seemed like she had everything including the dream job she was just about to start and the perfect boyfriend she was just about to become engaged to, and it was all changed in the blink of an eye, or the crash of an airplane she had been terrified to get into in the first place. So now what? Layers peel away, and as they do she begins to see that what she thought was perfect and what she thought she wanted maybe wasn’t what she needed in the first place. But now, after the accident, can she have anything? How far below happy will she have to settle?We learn about ourselves and other people in the tough times. But sometimes what we learn is not we wanted to see. And sadly we sometimes learn that some people just cannot cope with tough times. Some are just thoughtless and cruel and say whatever comes to mind. Chip’s comment to Margaret about her appearance had me bursting into tears and almost shouting for him to shut up. Even her family didn’t know what to do and reacted in unexpected ways. It is heartbreaking in the beginning when she doesn’t yet realize what has happened to her and thinks she just needs to rest before she can get up and walk away, and later when she has a question the nurses say, "Now that's a question for the doctor."How to Walk Away is all about Margaret’s condition after the accident, but it’s not about that at all. It’s about her strength and determination and the days when she totally gives up. It’s about how life goes on for the characters that surround her. I got so caught up in the story and the people that I really did forget about Margaret’s accident a good part of the time. Ian was totally unlikeable and mean on the one hand and totally vulnerable and sweet on the other. Many of the scenes between him and Margaret were touching – and heated. And then you would think how can this be? This is after the accident, remember? And he’s just that silent, grumpy therapist.This was truly unlike any other book I have ever read. Sometimes it seemed so real to me that I had to remind myself I wasn’t reading an autobiography. How to Walk Away makes you think about assumptions we make. Not how we take our health for granted, but how we just slide along in life sometimes thinking this is supposed to be and telling ourselves, and believing, that it’s perfect. And when that perfect is no longer possible, what is there? This amazing (did I already say amazing?) story tells you what’s left. In this age of the quick, easy fix, this is a story about something that can’t be fixed, but that must be faced head-on and endured. And how you must truly move on if you are to be happy.How to Walk Away was a very satisfying story. I laughed out loud when Margaret described herself as a desiccated, noodle-legged spinster, and when she and her sister Kitty planned to “Parent Trap” their parents. And I cried – a lot. This book was beautifully written and one I won’t soon forget. I highly recommend it. Thanks again to St. Martin’s Press.
  • (5/5)
    How to Walk Away: A Novel by Katherine CenterStory starts out with Margaret and she's excited about her date with Chip.Things are going really well for her-a new job prospect and she thinks he's going to pop the question on the date.The day starts out well, even the date til they arrive at the airplane hanger=he's a pilot, just gotten his hours in and he wants to share it all with her.She's skeptical and terrified of going in the pane but she goes anyways and things don't all go according to plan. He takes her near the beach where he's done some prior work down there and then head back and is told a surprise is in the glove box-the family ring-for her!Problem is bad weather plays a bad trick on them. The story follows what happens after the accident and how she struggles everyday to do everything. She's got a determined PT and she does succeed. She is also brought back in touch with her sister Kitty and she even comes to visit and she learns so many secrets from the past.Troubling times are still arising from others around her circle and she's taken on a vacation to the cabin and Ian the PT comes to her resuce and things get out of hand.She has a solution but he heads back to Europe without her. Kit has a plan and the girls and their mom head overseas to the wedding of Chip. She remembers him visitng her at the hosptial...Loved reading this story, all the medical terms made easy for us to understand and it all falls into place. Twists and turns along the way and a lot of surprises.Love the locations and so descriptive details. Didn't see this ending, very surprising! Would like to read other works by this new author to me.Received this review copy via St. Martins Press via Netgalley and this is my honest opinion.#HowToWalkAway #NetGalley
  • (4/5)
    I will admit that this was a book that I did not want to like. Yes, that is right – I did not want to like it. It seemed to be pure romance – no mysteries, no murders, no other story line than pure romance. But it hooked me! That, to me, a sign of good writing. The characters drew me in. They entertained me. They made me feel such a variety of emotions. I pretty much knew how most of the story was going to go, but I still enjoyed the ride. Life had been so perfect for Margaret. She was beautiful and had a handsome charming boyfriend who was soon to propose to her. She had landed her dream job. But then her life changed, and nothing would ever be the same again. Margaret now faces obstacles she has no idea how to contend with.Beyond the romance, this book is about not giving up on yourself, or others. It is about your loved ones not letting you give up on yourself. It is about finding the strength in yourself to carry on. There is a quote I am sure will be popular from this book – it is quoted several times. “When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else.” Great advice when you are consumed with self-pity and/or overwhelmed. Get outside yourself and look at others. Sometimes this will help you forget – even if only for a moment- that others suffer too. Others also feel isolated and helpless. And sometimes when you aren’t looking Love finds you.The dynamics of the relationships are very relatable. There’s the boyfriend who wallows in self-pity himself and can’t “man up”. It can’t be complete without the domineering mother who steamrolls her way through her daughters’ lives. My favorite part of the book was the bond between Margaret and her sister Kitty. There had been a rift in the family and Kitty had had no contact with any of her family for the last three years. But she returns to be at Margaret’s side. Kitty is the kind of sister you want, you need, when you are at your lowest. No matter how dark things got Kitty could make Margaret laugh. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy of the book.
  • (5/5)
    How to Walk Away is Katherine Center’s best book yet. She has crafted a beautiful, heartbreaking, and thoroughly romantic novel that is sure to be a hit with everyone who reads it. Soon after the book opens, Margaret Jacobsen’s world changes in an instant, and she must learn to forge ahead while trying to move on from the past. Margaret is tougher than she thinks and with the help of her sister and her physical therapist Ian, she slowly begins to create a new path for herself while learning to adjust to newly discovered family secrets and heartbreak. The story is clever, unpredictable, devastating, and ultimately unforgettable. Center has crafted fabulous, genuine characters that I loved and rooted for (Margaret, Kit, and Ian) and others that I wanted to throttle (Chip and his mother). And most importantly, the ending is outstanding.How to Walk Away is thought-provoking and handles a tough subject effectively and realistically, refusing to sugarcoat Margaret’s predicament which I appreciated. I find it frustrating when an author includes a tough topic only to downplay or gloss over the difficulty of the situation. Moreover, Center has clearly done her research on Margaret’s condition which adds depth and authenticity to the story – I learned so much that I didn’t know. I think my favorite part of the book is Center’s message that people do not always control what happens to them, but they do control how they handle the issues that arise, whether the issues are significant or simply a blip on the screen of life. That message certainly resonates with me and is a good reminder that while certain things cannot be changed, I can alter how I approach responding to those things.How to Walk Away is a fantastic book that I will continue thinking about for a long time. I highly recommend it, and when you sit down to read it have tissues ready. Clear your schedule before you start it, because you will not be able to put it down. I received a copy to read and review. All opinions are my own.
  • (5/5)
    I loved Happiness for Beginners and was excited to read this book. It definitely didn't disappoint. The book had a lot of funny parts for being about such a sad subject.Margaret had a picture perfect life with a new dream job and a fiance. Then it came all crashing down around her, literally. Waking up in the hospital, Margaret's whole life had changed. Her overbearing mother wants her to be fixed, Chip loves the old Margaret and Margaret's sister, Kitty, shows up back into her life after being out of touch for three years. Throw into the mix a sexy Scottish physical therapist. I absolutely loved the characters. Maybe I didn't love Chip or his mother, but they were necessary for the plot. But I loved Kitty and Margaret. The way they talked and the stuff that came out of their mouths was hilarious. I found myself smiling and laughing with them. How can you not love Kitty, Margaret thought she looked like a bull with her nose ring and she had a boyfriend called The Mustache and loved a guy she called Fat Benjamin. Along with the characters, I loved the story line and writing style. I definitely recommend the book and look forward to reading the next. Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and the author, Katherine Center, for a free electronic ARC of this novel.
  • (5/5)
    What an unexpected surprise this book gave me! I, typically, do not read these types of romancey, feel good, lovey-dovey types. WELLLLLLL, this really isn't any of that. It is a story about a woman that must do a lot of hard work to get back to what she is meant to have/be. I laughed right out loud and cried without shame (sometimes at the same time).

    My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for this advanced readers copy.
  • (5/5)
    "You can't fix everything. Not even close. But you can look for reasons to be grateful."This is one of those books that you won't put down once you start reading it. It's extremely well written with characters that are easy to love (and a few who are easy to dislike). The author did extensive research and I learned new things as well as enjoying this novel. Margaret has the perfect life - a new MBA, a great chance at a dream job and a wonderful boyfriend, Chip, who she is sure will propose to her any minute. The only sad part of her life is her estranged sister but she refuses to think about her. Margaret's perfect life is torn away from her in a tragedy that almost kills her. She has to learn to negotiate a completely different world than the one she had planned for. As the reality sets in, her moods change from hopeful to despair over and over. How she handles her new life and how the people in her life help her will cause some tears (have tissue close) and you'll be rooting for her success on every page.I loved Margaret and Ian and the way they worked together. I didn't like Chip or his mom and at times, I didn't like Margaret's mom but realized that she was trying to fix things for her daughter, even when she was being difficult. This is a fantastic book and one of the best that I've read all year. Thanks to Bookish Firsts for a copy to read and review. All opinions are my own.
  • (5/5)
    Everything. All the emotions from terrifying sad hopeful loving funny.Loved it. Great read ??
  • (5/5)
    Excellent book. ... If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to hardy@novelstar.top or joye@novelstar.top
  • (2/5)
    Fluff. Formulaic. Maudlin. Fun to read but forgettable. A distraction z
  • (5/5)
    Loved the story! My only problem was with Ian's "voice" in my head. Unfortunately, the way it was written he sounded like every other English speaking man instead of having that sexy Scottish brogue. I was sad.
  • (4/5)
    This book has tropes I normally don’t like and a totally predictable plot. So who do you think is most surprised that I enjoyed this so much?? I have to give full credit to the author for getting me hooked on these characters right from the beginning. I really, really liked this!
  • (4/5)
    If you are looking for what to read next, I absolutely recommend Center's "Happiness for Beginners".