Book Review: It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way by Mary Rowen

It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way
by
Mary Rowen

Molly Dolan dreams of a steady relationship. At twenty-five, she’s floundering, drinking too much and making poor decisions. The only good thing going is Molly’s job. She got in on the ground floor at FSI as senior marketing writer, but she’s just learned of a big a change.

Molly’s relationship problems began in high school. When her one close friendship ended tragically, she tried to suppress her feelings, but the burden of loss and regret led to reckless decisions and she has carried that burden into adulthood.

Molly’s neighbor Fred Flaherty is alone at seventy-two. Divorced for many years, he listens to Jim Croce records and talks to buddies on his ham radio. But his failed marriage and the recent death of his younger brother, Davey weigh heavy on him.

When Davey was born, Fred’s awkward and lonely childhood turned happy. The twelve-year difference didn’t matter because they adored each other. Now Fred looks back at how Davey’s once promising future dissolved when he returned from Vietnam.

With seemingly little in common, Molly and Fred strike up a friendship that, despite many unforeseen obstacles, may help them find happiness and direction in their lives.

Mary Rowen’s charming new book, It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way, is due out this fall. It’s a hopeful and touching story about how people make mistakes and get caught up in bad situations, even when they’re trying to do the right thing. Set outside Boston, in Arlington, Massachusetts, the story begins in 2012 and begins with Molly’s first-person narrative. Alternating third-person chapters provide details about both characters’ lives, framed by chapters named after Jim Croce’s music. Readers will like how Rowen’s flawed characters navigate modern and realistic situations. She introduces serious themes of family problems, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assault, harassment and mental health and buffers them with everyday examples of kindness and humor.

I recommend this women’s fiction story about difficult relationships and hopeful friendships and look forward to more books by Rowen.

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