Truthfully, maybe this book isn't so bad as one star, but when I noticed it was some percentage points higher rated than the first book in the series, I needed to punish it. And one of the most glaring Bad Things about it was that there didn't seem to be an editor available to give this book a once-over. Misspellings, sentences that seemed to start with one idea and finish with another and make no sense at all, the wrong damn character name used at least once? YUCK.
If you came to this book from The Bookshop On the Corner, you'll find that Nina is a dick now :( Look, we've all been enormously pregnant and cranky because of it - having what is essentially a parasite literally kick your butt from inside of your body sucks, ok? - but I don't recall being mean to a helpful stranger (at least to their face) when I was knocked up, so it was gross to read someone else doing it. I also kind of felt like her having any sort of story here was a bad choice. You already had your book, girl! Go rest.
I did appreciate the Jane Eyreness of the ex-wife-gone-mad thing, but this reveal didn't come about until 90something% into the book, and was rushed through, and confusing, and didn't make me feel sympathy for any party involved in it. I think it was supposed to, but my main takeaway from that plot, and most of the book, is that every parent in this story was shit. Oh, your “common law wife” (which, couldn't it have just been wife?) went crazy and so you locked yourself away in your giant library (congrats) and let your kids live on literal toast and never bathe or go to school? I am the wife who went crazy and I still manage to stress myself out making sure my picky eating child eats some fucking fruit. And Jaz? How dare we share a nickname! That dad was dead. beat., and I kept wishing he'd just go away forever, but then I think I was supposed to forgive him at the end because he finally introduced his parents to their grandchild? (The kid was four, by the way.)
Zoe was a fine protagonist. I'm drawn to stories about mothers and young sons (there aren't many that don't involve ~rooms~) because I am a mother with a young son. I loved how much she loved her kid, I loved the memories she had of giving birth to him, being with him when he was a baby, and how fiercely she wanted to do what was right by him at all times. She deserved better than her baby-dad, and better than the Mr. Rochester dad who was for some reason completely absolved of his child neglect because he had big hands and kissed good. Did his not-daughter almost kill Zoe's kid? Yes, but wasn't he super tall, just like, so so tall, you never stop reading about how tall he is, and also he had a lot of rooms to fuck in? Yes 2.
Good luck to all of these characters who are fictional and made me so mad anyway!