Warning: If you have not read “Coming Home” by Holly Kerr, don’t read this review unless you want major spoilers.
I’m back with another book review and this time I’m looking at “Coming Home” by Holly Kerr! I received a copy of this book from Voracious Readers only, and here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:
“After her cheating husband destroys her career, Brenna has nowhere to go but home.
Home means her four sisters in the tiny Northern Ontario town with no Starbucks and well-meaning townsfolk who know her every move. Every mistake.
And Brenna is making more than a few mistakes. From falling asleep at the local bar to hooking up with her niece’s boyfriend, Brenna’s life is giving the town a lot to talk about.
Her sister Cat wants nothing to do with her. Content living in the family home with the ghost of their mother, Cat’s left a trail of broken hearts and failed marriages on the road to Brenna’s ex, Seamus Todd. Brenna’s return brings back old insecurities and unanswered questions for Cat.
Sibling rivalries, old grudges and a least one knock-out, drag-down kitchen fight ensue as Brenna and Cat are forced to live under the same roof.
And to make it worse, Brenna’s not the only one coming home.”
Individual Character Development: 1 out of 5 stars
Many of the characters are complete mess and either underdeveloped or just badly written overall with what they’re given. Cat and Brenna come off as completely unsympathetic due to Brenna’s general rudeness towards everyone when she first comes back to her hometown, as well as Cat’s constant selfishness and blaming Brenna for almost everything that goes wrong. Brady just comes off as plain creepy, given that he’s the nephew of Seamus (who is the object of affection between Cat and Brenna) and he fully knew this while sleeping with Brenna early in the book, before later still trying to hook up with her when she’s clearly uncomfortable with him around. I also thought that because the focus was mainly on Brenna in this book, the other sisters such as Maggie didn’t get as much spotlight despite this story being about all four sisters slowly reconciling with each other.
Out of all the characters, Maggie is the sole voice of reason that I can actually sympathize with. I understand her reasonings for taking out a loan from someone that Cat and the rest of the family didn’t have a good footing with, for instance, as well as seriously looking out for her kids (she doesn’t hesitate to kick out Brenna after finding out she slept with Brady, who was someone that Maggie’s daughter Evie had a crush on) and being in a loving marriage to her husband Mike. She’s the one person I was rooting for through the entire book, despite the book not focusing much on her and instead on Brenna.
Character Relationship development (both romantic and familial): 1.5 out of 5 stars
I did not like reading Cat and Seamus’ relationship overall. It doesn’t help when it turns out that Cat’s been trying to have a child without getting married to him first while Seamus is insistent on getting married prior to having children. For context, Cat has been through three marriages prior to being in a relationship with Seamus, the first two ending in divorce while the third husband died. It especially doesn’t help that Cat is trying to get pregnant by withholding the fact from Seamus that she is not on the pill instead of outright trying to talk to him about children and marriage first, given their differing views. Her trying to get pregnant with their child prior to marriage without his consent is not something that should be easily condoned, and I’m glad that Seamus calls her out for it once he finds out. It’s also mentioned early on in chapter six the book that Cat ‘seduced’ Seamus by having sex with him at a party while she was fourteen and he was sixteen, while Seamus happened to be drunk. It is not mentioned as of whether Cat herself was also drunk at the time, and if that was the case, this situation is dubious consent at best. If Cat was actually sober during this time, this means that she raped him prior to their relationship starting in the first place. I actually feel really bad for Seamus looking back on this, and I still wonder how the heck he didn’t break up with her after all of this happening between them.
There are also many relationships that are very messed up other than Cat and Seamus’ relationship. For instance, Brady and Brenna’s relationship is obviously a toxic one (Brenna is much older than Brady in comparison, and Brady basically took advantage of her to sleep with her), but it thankfully ends quickly. Maggie, however, has a loving marriage with Mike and I honestly wished we had more scenes of those two together with their kids instead of everyone else’s drama in the book.
Looking on the familial side, Brenna’s relationship with her sisters is very bad as well, given her rivalry with Cat, as well as her eventual coming to blows with Maggie over Brady and Brenna sleeping together. Their father is also not that much better with the main three, either, and turns out that their mother is not, either. However, I felt that it was almost too obvious that both the mother and the father to the main characters would turn out to be not the greatest influences on them, especially given how there was already mentions of their dad cheating on the mother in the first place. I also found it sudden how the three sisters managed to reconcile in the end simply because they had to band against their father trying to buy out the family home. There were just so many badly-written or toxic relationships in this book overall that I found it hard to sympathize with any of the characters in their relationships with each other except for Maggie.
Plot development: 2 out of 5 stars
Because there were so many relationships (and messed up ones at that) to deal with, I felt that the main plot of the sisters trying to reconcile with each other was buried in all these little sideplots. It didn’t help that a lot of the sideplots were badly executed and that the relationship drama felt melodramatic (in a bad way, as in hard to be read as believable) overall.
Overall, I’m rating this book 1.5 out of 5 stars due to badly-written relationships and too many sideplots burying the main plot overall.