The Year I Left

Fiction - Womens
284 Pages
Reviewed on 08/26/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite

Workaholic Carin Frost hasn’t been herself since her mother’s sudden death in The Year I Left, a tender yet honest examination of one woman falling apart and the cost of being true to herself. Carin trudges through her daily life as depression begins to overtake her, avoiding her bills and her husband, Jack, as she longs to feel alive again. When Carin meets Matias Torres, a new colleague at work, she feels a spark return. Carin doesn’t want to betray Jack, no matter how empty their marriage feels, or her ten-year-old son, Charlie, and Matias is engaged anyway so Carin tries to carry on with her life. But Matias and her mother’s death are catalysts for change that Carin can’t avoid forever.

Christine Brae’s The Year I Left is a masterpiece of women’s fiction, detailing an extraordinary period in Carin’s life through a poignant narrative. Brae’s pose is pointed yet lyrical, and the interesting stylistic choice of including passages addressing Matias directly in the first person narrative works astoundingly well. The symptoms and effects of depression are accurately conveyed and while the reader may not be able to relate to Carin’s troubles consistently, it’s impossible to avoid feeling compassion for this desperate and brave character. The romance between Matias and Carin is convincing and affectionate, subverting the tropes surrounding extramarital affairs. Part two of The Year I Left takes an unexpected turn that leads into the snarled complexities of running away from problems before reaching a delightful conclusion.

Deborah Lloyd

Only thirty-five years old, and already married ten years, Carin Frost was struggling to cope with her life. It seemed she had it all – Jack, her adoring husband; Charlie, her bright, young son; financial security; her position in a global real estate company. But Carin was dissatisfied and sad, and she was having a difficult time dealing with the death of her mother. When a new business associate, Matias Torres, entered her life, she resisted his invitations for a relationship. When they experienced a horrific storm together during a business trip to Southeast Asia, everything changed. In order to save herself from the depths of depression, she found a way to rediscover her true self. In the novel, The Year I Left, written by Christine Brae, one woman’s journey of working through personal difficulties and finding purpose and peace is detailed.

The two main characters of this story, Carin and Matias, develop an atypical, convoluted relationship. While the attraction is strong, it is fraught with personal challenges and previous family entanglements. The author developed these characters step-by-step, adding intriguing layers of insightful information. Friends Diana and Ariel are also an interesting addition to the plot, as their story mirrors their own in many ways. The story is unique and engages the reader from the first page to the last. How this central theme will end, and how the family members will cope with revelations, are unknown questions until the last chapter. Author Christine Brae has crafted a thoughtful, interesting story in The Year I Left.

K.C. Finn

The Year I Left is a work of dramatic and heartfelt women’s fiction penned by author Christine Brae. The grief of losing her mother sends our heroine Carin Frost into a tailspin in her life. She has been a success at motherhood, business, marriage, and life in general, but now nothing seems to make sense anymore. So when a business partner, Matias Torres, brings an exciting new proposition to the table, Carin tries to keep things strictly professional. But a fateful business trip to Southeast Asia pops up, forcing Carin to examine her life, choices, and her deepest feelings, trying to work out what it is she really wants from her life after all.

This book offers more than a simple romance for fans of the genre but also provides a deep and thoughtful examination of what it means to be truly satisfied in life, with yourself and with the other people around you. The relationship between Matias and Carin developed interestingly rather than instantly, and the dialogue they share enhances the realism of the characters, allowing us to get to know them much more intimately than your average romance novel would allow. Author Christine Brae really taps into an important message about what brings value in life, adding to that her beautifully described settings, realistically staged conversations and alone time with our heroine Carin, providing a heartbreakingly deep portrayal of a real turning point in life. Overall, The Year I Left is an excellent and powerfully emotive read for fiction fans everywhere.