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BOOK REVIEW: Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

“Now that I’ve forgiven myself, the reminders of him only make me smile.”

Colleen Hoover has been showing up on my #FYP on TikTok for quite awhile now, and so I thought I should give her books a try. I mean, this is how I found Zodiac Academy and I am completely in love with that series, so I felt that I couldn't go wrong giving her a try as well. And boy was I right to do so! Reminders of Him was my first Colleen Hoover book and now I feel that I need to find all her books and read them!

Returning to town after five years in prison for a fatally tragic mistake that took the life of her boyfriend, troubled mother Kenna Rowan hopes to reunite with her four year old daughter. However, everyone who is caring for Kenna’s daughter is determined to keep her away, not even wanting to recognize that she is working hard and trying to prove that she is a good person who made a mistake, and just wants a chance to meet the daughter she loves. The local bar owner, Ledger, is a direct link to Kenna's daughter. Ledger Ward did not know who Kenna was when she first stepped through the doors of his bar, but she caught his eye, and he wanted to know more about her. When he realized who she was, he was angered, but then the more he got to know her, the more he realized she is a good person just trying to make it through life, hoping she can meet and build some type of presence in her daughter's life. The more he gets to know her, the more he wants to know about her. But if anyone finds out how important Ledger is becoming in Kenna’s life, both would lose the trust of everyone important to them and Kenna’s daughter. Ledger and Kenna form a connection despite all the pressure around them, but as the romance between them intensifies, the risk does as well. Kenna needs to find a way to vindicate the mistakes from her past in order to build a future worthy of her daughter.

That is just a brief summary of the story that hopefully does not give too much away, but enough for me to break apart and explain why I give it 4 out of 5 stars! My favorite thing about this story are the characters' development. The way that Kenna is written as a character really shows how she has grown and recognized her own actions, feelings, and how those affect her interactions with others. Kenna had a difficult childhood and ended up in foster care a couple of times but always returned back to her mother. When Kenna moved out on her own, and then met and started dating her boyfriend, Scotty, she was introduced to his parents and saw how close knit they all were together. Kenna did not know how to act and react in this type of situation and was uncomfortable in the setting, which did not give the greatest impression to Scotty's parents. Throughout the book, I love how Kenna constantly showed her growth and maturity, she owned up to her actions, she knew what she did, and she was working towards forgiveness, both within herself and hoping that she could receive it from Scotty's parents, but also realizing that it was ultimately their choice to forgive, and understood that it might not happen.

Something Kenna did throughout the story was write to Scotty; her way of keeping a journal but gearing it towards him. I loved this and I also felt sad about this. I loved it because it showed her working through her feelings, recognizing her emotions in situations, recognizing what happened that brought her to prison and why, working through having and losing her daughter, as well as her attempt in working towards meeting her. I also felt sad about her doing this because it gives a bigger picture of her truly not having anyone that matters in her life that she could talk with. She had reached out to her mother when in prison, and that did not go well, with Kenna truly washing her hands of that relationship. She lost the one person who cared about her and what happens to her when she lost Scotty. Her writing letters to Scotty is a way to keep him alive in her life. And one letter in particular makes all the difference for the better in Kenna's life by the end.

“There was before you and there was during you. For some reason, I never thought there would be an after you.”

Ledger was Scotty's best friend in the world. Kenna unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) never got to meet him before Scotty's fatal accident. The first day of Kenna being back in town, and Ledger is one of the first people that she meets when she walks through the doors of his bar. Ledger is intrigued by her and curious of why she would show up in a bar and then not want to drink; is she a recovering alcoholic?? He finds her curiouser and curiouser and convinces her to come back. I found Ledger a very interesting character. There were times that I loved him. Without even really knowing Kenna at all, he offers her a ride so she doesn't have to walk in the dark back to her apartment. He is constantly giving her a ride to and from work, he offers her a job at his bar, lends her a table and chairs, and the list goes on and on. He comes across as a genuinely kind and helpful person to those around him. And then there were times I found him infuriating. He was purposely helping to keep Kenna away from her daughter, physically holding her back and blocking her access. And then, as he grew to know Kenna better and see her for who she really is, which is a good and selfless person, he felt guilty for keeping her away and would show her pictures and videos of her daughter. At these moments, I wanted him to speak up! Help her to meet her daughter if you see she isn't trying to steal her away! And then you realize the unfathomable position he is in. He sees Kenna's pain, he sees her selflessness and honest goodness, he sees the pain and grief of Scotty's family, he sees Kenna's daughter and how loved she is. How does he decide what is right and what he should fight for without losing someone he cares about? One thing I love about Kenna's character though...she would rather lose Ledger herself, than have her daughter lose him in her life.

Kenna's pain is felt throughout the book. When you learn the details of the accident that landed her in prison, it is heart wrenching! It truly feels like something that could happen in your own life and makes you think and wonder how you would handle the situation. And then think back to when you were 21 and how you would have handled the situation. I always feel it is a great sign of a truly good writer when you try to put yourself in the story, when you wonder how you would go about handling any of the events that happen within the story, when you are able to feel so emotionally invested in the story wanting to see how everything will play out. Colleen Hoover, or CoHo as I see all over social media platforms, is a great author in my opinion! Reminders of Him was such an easy read that you did not want to put down! Though it was an easy read (where it flowed easy and you felt like you were flying through the pages), it was definitely a heavy and raw story. The pain, not just Kenna's, could be felt by all of the characters. How they each dealt with that pain was expressed differently which I really enjoyed. I felt that was pretty authentic since not everyone heals and grieves in the same way either.

Overall, this was a fantastic read. I truly felt all the emotional feels that you can have. Colleen Hoover is a such a wonderful author. I am pretty sure I need to go now and add all of the rest of her books to my TBR list! She knows just the right way to pull you onto an emotional rollercoaster and love it all at the same time. There are no crazy twists or sudden surprises that jump at you. It is just an emotional journey through a woman's life as she works through forgiving herself, accepting her actions, and trying to move past into a better future, whether that is by herself or with her daughter in her life. THIS WAS A F**KING PIGEON of a story (and with that note - you'll just have to read the book to get that reference, hehe).

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