by Kristina Riggle

Harper Collins Publishing, $13.99, 334 pages

Are you living the life you imagined? Youthful dreaming, for better or worse, rarely materializes into adult reality, but it’s never too late to dream anew. Kristina Riggle’s The Life You’ve Imagined shares the intertwined past and present paths of four women navigating dysfunctional families, wounded hearts, and friendship. Haven, aptly named, is where Anna and Cami grew up as childhood friends. The pair drift apart following high school, but both return as thirty something women following unexpected life events. Amy has never left Haven, but struggles to create the perfect life she imagines. Maeve, Anna’s mother, is stuck in the past. She runs the Nee Nance Store since her husband walked out some twenty years before, and still awaits his gallant return. Each has a different past, but similarly struggle to reconcile their imperfect selves, families, and choices with their imagined future. The chapters alternate the first person narrative of the four women, and successfully weave the different story-lines despite the changing narrator. There are moments of wonderful descriptive writing and character introspection, but the reader shuffles through often stilted dialogue, plot development, and random sub-plot story lines. Overall, a chick flick reminiscent read exploring a universal theme.

Reviewed by Julie Finley