In the vein of Meg Donohue and Sarah Jio, Cecilia Galante’s second novel delivers the powerful story of one young woman who’s faced with an impossible choice—one that could have her making the biggest mistake of her life.
Thirteen days. That’s all Bernadette, “Bird,” Sincavage has left to go until she’s done with her probation and can be free again. Free from making payments to the supermarket she wrote bad checks to. Free from living at home with her overzealous mother who’s constantly nagging her about attending church again. Free to give her four-year-old son, Angus, the normal life he deserves. Her impending freedom and move to Moon Lake, where she’s plunked down a deposit on a brand new apartment, is so close she can almost taste it. What trouble could she possibly get into in just thirteen days?
But trouble does follow in the form of James Rittenhouse—someone she worked with a few years ago. At first, Bird is stunned to see James make the evening news when he’s arrested for assaulting someone in a local bar. But that’s nothing compared to the shock she gets when she discovers James hiding out in an abandoned church choir loft. Somehow he escaped police custody, broke his leg, and got his hand on a gun, which he’s now pointing at her.
Although Bird doesn’t tell anyone she saw James, there’s no way she’s helping him. She can’t screw up her probation or her second chance for a new future. And she has her son’s welfare to think about. Still. If only she could stop thinking about the terrified look in James’ eyes and the fact that he’s hurt. If only she could forget that once, long ago, James helped her out, and she owes him a debt like no other.
Will Bird jeopardize her future for someone who helped her out in the past? A past that holds secrets she’s not quite sure she’s ready to face? Or will she turn a blind eye and learn to live with the consequences?
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 31, 2017)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 31, 2017)
This is the second book from Cecilia Galante that I have reviewed (the first is The Invisibles--see review here) so I was excited to read The Odds of You and Me. What I like about Galante's writing is that she makes her characters real and no matter how prickly they are or how you may shake your head at their life choices or actions, you come to care about them--they feel like friends that you want the best for. Bird Sincavage is one of those great characters. At times I disliked her and desperately wanted to shake her for her decision making--both in the past and in the current story--but her love for her son Angus and her loyalty and wanting to do the right thing or at least do better for him, made me come to love her. I felt the same way about the supporting characters, especially Angus, four-going-on-five-going-on-forty. Sometimes young children are written as too smart or too much of a wise old soul but Angus rings true and is utterly charming. James is sympathetic and given his history with Bird and the secret they share, it makes it seem almost reasonable that she risks throwing away her second chance and everything she has worked for to help him. Her mother was frustrating and often made me angry, like Bird but her motives and love for her daughter and grandson are slowly uncovered throughout the story and even her parole officer Mrs. Ross, Father Delaney, and Bird's elderly client Mr. Herron, are flushed out and add much to the story. There is profanity throughout the story and a couple of short scenes recounting past sexual violence that could be a trigger for some, but it is appropriate for the storytelling and not overdone.
This book is about family, love, loyalty and second and third chances. Galante's writing made me angry, made me laugh and made me cry--I ran the gamut of all of the feels in this one. It sucked me in from the beginning and didn't let go until the ending--which left me satisfied--not something that always happens in a book lately. If you like women's fiction, contemporary fiction, and family drama, but you like it drawn a bit deeper than the norm, add The Odds of You and Me to your TBR pile--it's a book that will touch your heart.
Author Notes: Cecilia Galante, who received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Vermont, is the author of eightyoung adult novels and a children’s chapter-book series. She has been the recipient of many awards, including an NAIBA Best Book of the Year, and an Oprah’s Teen Read Selection for her first novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies. She lives in Kingston, Pennsylvania with her three children.
Find out more about Cecilia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
You know a book is good when I pay very little attention to the food because normally I read and note practically everything consumed in a book I am reviewing. Because I was so caught up n Bird's story I noted some things but overlooked much I am sure. I ended up pretty quickly deciding on a dish to make when Angus's 'Nanny' made him peanut butter pancakes. First, it sounded good and then it came up again later in the book when Bird finds a paper she wrote in second grade before her father died and her relationship with her mother deteriorated so much.
"My family is the best. My dad goes to work. He plays hide-and-seek with me when he comes home. My ma makes me peanut butter pancakes. She loves me, even if I do gross things. Like pick my nose. My family is special. My family is the best!"
That quote from the book makes me want to give Bird a hug and it was pretty clear that peanut butter pancakes must be made.
I didn't have any flour or pancake mix in the house, but I did have peanut butter, eggs, and some ripe apple bananas and so I decided to look at gluten free pancake recipes online. I had made two-ingredient banana and egg pancakes before (here) and figured adding peanut butter would be an easy adjustment. I found several recipes online and settled on using this one from Gluten Free Fix. I adjusted it slightly--combining both natural peanut butter and a peanut butter powder in mine. I liked that she made her pancakes heart-shaped as I felt it fit the love that was there, if not always clearly shown in the story. My changes to the recipe are in red below.
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Pancakes
Adapted from GlutenFreeFix.com
(Makes about 6-7 Small Pancakes)
2 over ripe bananas, mashed (I used 4 small apple bananas)
1/2 cup almond butter or peanut butter (I used 1/3 cup natural peanut butter + 2 Tbsp powdered peanut butter + 2 Tbsp water)
dash of cinnamon
(extra banana slices, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, and maple syrup to serve)
Whisk together all ingredients (or pulse in blender until mixed). Grease a griddle or pan and heat over medium-low heat.
To make heart-shaped pancakes: grease a metal mold and place it directly on a pan and pour in pancake batter to about 1/4-1/3-inch level--making sure the surface is evenly covered. Practice patience and leave cutter alone until pancake is mostly cooked and not liquidy on top. (Watch for the bubbles.) Gently remove the mold and carefully flip the pancake over, cooking until the bottom is slightly-browned and pancake is cooked through. Repeat with the rest of the batter, keeping pancakes warm until ready to serve.
If not using heart-shaped cookie cutter or mold, prepare pan and above and pour batter into about 3-inch circles. Cook until pancake is browned on bottom and mostly cooked. Gently flip pancake and cook until the bottom is slightly brown and pancake is cooked through. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Serve warm, as soon as possible, topped with a small scoop of peanut butter, banana slices, mini chocolate chips and maple syrup. Enjoy!
Notes/Results: Love how these turned out for the photos and they tasted great, but I am not sure that I love anyone enough to make heart-shaped pancakes using a cookie cutter on a regular basis. ;-) It turned out to be quite a PITA. Even though I greased the cookie cutter, the edges were sticky and didn't want to release and I lost the first couple of tries--by lost I mean lop-sided but still edible. Once I made a thinner pancake and exercised enough patience to not move it until the top was fairly set, I got some good ones, but next time I will just make round pancakes. I find that the trick to success with these egg and banana pancakes is to keep them small and treat them gently. The peanut butter flavor was good and the toppings fun. I would make them again.
Note: A review copy of the "The Odds of You and Me" was provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.