Queen of Tarts Review of
The Art of my Life
by Ann Lee Miller
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect… I read Ann’s Kicking Eternity and it was ok… It’s inspirational fiction and not something I normally read. BUT I was drawn to her characters, especially Cal and Aly and when I saw that The Art of my Life was their story I had to give it a try. I’m glad I did. The Art of my Life is catagorized as New Adult so it fits in with my Young Adult Celebration too <g>
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I just finished this book, literally like 30 minutes ago. I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer and then… hmmm maybe like I was put in a dryer and with a snuggle dryer sheet. <g> This story is intensely emotional. It’s about 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances, it’s about acceptance and love and hope, it’s a beautiful story!
The Art of my Life still has a Christian world view but it’s not as overt as in Kicking Eternity and to me it felt more natural. Some of the characters have a relationship with God, but they aren’t being preachy about it, it’s just part of their life.
The hero of the story, Cal, doesn’t see himself as a hero. He views himself as a pothead ex-con and not worth anything. I loved Cal. The book starts when he’s released from jail for possession of marijuana. It was actually his hippie grandparents supply. His grandmother, maybe from guilt, deeds him their boat. So Cal, has a boat and nothing more except his failed dreams and his art. While he was in jail he had time to think about what he wanted from life and he decided that he is going to try to fix things with Aly, the girl he’s been in love with since he was a teenager.
Aly is a very sympathetic character. I was so happy this was her story because I fell in love with her in Kicking Eternity. She has HUGE daddy issues and lived recklessly as a teenager and slept around seeking acceptance. Cal was always there for her as her best friend. He was there when she had a pregnancy scare and helped her see that she was seeking love from guys she didn’t even care about and she was worth more. She’s single now and working in a bank as a loan officer saving towards her dream of owning her own business someday.
Cal gets a loan through her bank and tries to turn his boat into a charter business. They begin to rebuild their friendship and have to deal with baggage on both sides. Her insecurities and his feelings of inadequacy and the looming threat of him sabotaging his future and returning to jail. I wanted to hug them both and tell them they have value and are worthy of love. I was rooting for them. My stomach was in knots and I almost cried during some of the heartbreaking scenes. I wanted Cal to stop using drugs as a crutch when he wanted to avoid the messes he made with his life and was feeling like garbage. I wanted Aly to trust that she was was worthy of being loved. I was thrilled as they began to believe in the power of love and forgiveness and 2nd chances at life.
I also loved how Ann painted the secondary characters in Cal and Aly’s life. I felt like Fish, Missy and Cal’s mom Starr were so fully drawn that I might recognise them on the street. I enjoyed the storyline of Fish and Missy especially. 🙂
Here are just a few of my favs lines
♦ Cut off. Alone. Starved for her. He’d always love Aly. The best he could hope for was that she would be happy. At least one of them would be.
♦ Do you ever feel like you’re facing a day that could change the course of your life forever? How do you prepare for a day like that? Eat Wheaties, floss, pray, clean house?
♦ “My God, Aly. I’ve wanted you since I met you. I wanted you on Christmas when I showed you my tattoo. I’ve wanted you every day since you got caught in a thunder storm and spent that first night on the Escape. How could you think I didn’t want you?”
♦ He’d bled paint every day in the month since torching Henna’s garden till the picture on canvas finally matched the one stuck in his head. It was his crowning work, yet it was more. The vision had kept him sober. True. But pieces of his life had wrestled into place…
♦ Cal said God forgave, but people—not so much. Now she understood.
♦ Cal’s lips claimed hers, and he forgot for long minutes he’d promised not to kiss her less than a week ago; the business hadn’t actually broken even yet. He forgot the tick of the cuckoo clock on the wall—everything but the scent of mint growing deep in a forest that clung to her, Aly’s fresh baked bread taste, Aly melded to his heart.
I recommend The Art of my Life if you are open to a romance that has a faith based, but not pushy, world view and a heart wrenching story about love and forgiveness and 2nd chances.
The Queen of Tarts
PS. Oh! I have a post with Ann where she chats about growing up on a boat 🙂 click HERE to see it
The Art of my Life
Aly has the business smarts, strings to a startup loan, and heart he never should have broken. He’s got squat. Unless you count enough original art to stock a monster rummage sale and an affection for weed.
But he’d only ever loved Aly. That had to count for something. Aly needed a guy who owned yard tools, tires worth rotating, and a voter’s registration card. He’d be that guy or die trying.
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