The Milestone Tapes
by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro;
Editions: ebook, paperback
Published March 13th 2012 (first published January 1st 2012)
Source: review copy
Jenna Chamberland never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. That is, until she realized that her life was ending after a three-year battle against breast cancer. Now, all she really wants is more time.
With 4,320 hours left to live, Jenna worries for her loved ones and what she knows awaits them on the other side: Gabe will have to make the slip from husband to widower, left alone to raise their seven-year-old daughter; Mia will be forced to cope with life without her mother. In a moment of reflection, Jenna decides to record a set of audiocassettes — The Milestone Tapes – leaving her voice behind as a legacy for her daughter.
Nine years later, Mia is a precocious sixteen-year-old and her life is changing all around, all she wants is her mother. Through the tapes, Jenna’s voice returns to teach Mia the magic of life, her words showing her daughter how to spread her wings and embrace the coming challenges with humor, grace and hope.
THE MILESTONE TAPES is the journey of love between a parent and child, and of the bond that holds them when life no longer can.~ Goodreads Blurb
I’ll begin with the obvious. Freaking AMAZING cover!! Seriously, freaking amazing!! Genius work. The author’s site is also pretty freaking gorgeous and the cover for her other novel is genius as well. This angle of things is spot on, it’s a full 5 butterflies all on its own.
Now, this was hard to rate. I really loved reading it, but I couldn’t ignore some things that bothered me. I’ll just say what did bother me and get it out of the way. This book needs more editing, not dramatically so but there were a few spots where it was clear the editor’s attention wasn’t 100% there. It didn’t bug me out because I tend to skim over the stuff if I’m really loving the story, but I won’t pretend the elephant in the room isn’t there. More editing, a careful comb-over look and this would be, for me, easily a 5 butterflies read. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on.
The story is not just for every reader out there. Especially if someone close to you was lost to cancer, I’m not going to say dive in unless you’re brave and have gotten emotionally balanced after your loss. I had a hard time reading the novel and I cried like a million and one times during. So it’s not one of those easy entertainment reads. It’s dramatic, in places intense and very demanding. It’s not a light read, and you should thread carefully into it in my opinion, because it will leave you ruffled. You’ll be smiling by the end, I’m sure, as I was too, but ruffled.
The plot is an emotional journey through life, love, loss and change. The focus shifts from Jenna to Mia somewhere around the middle or so of the book, and just when you might be thinking the tough part is over you’ll find there’s another one waiting to pounce on you. The author didn’t even capitalize on all the sources of drama this story had to offer and I was sobbing all over the place. In fact I really appreciated the fact she didn’t capitalize on all the tearjerkers, it felt gracious somehow instead of overwhelming.
The characters were very interesting to me. Jenna was my absolute favorite, I won’t lie about it. She was selfless and caring and loving, which only made her fate feel that much horrible. Her milestone tapes was a very intriguing idea, and I’ve been pondering on it since I finished reading the book. I’m not sure how I would feel about having some with my grandma, for instance. I have something like 16 seconds recorded of her voice, and that by mistake; 2 years since her death I still combust in instant hysterical crying whenever I hear them. I’m not sure how I’d react to having tapes of her talking to me about stuff… but maybe years from now I’ll be glad for those 16 seconds of her voice. As I’ve said, it’s an intriguing idea.
Mia was my second favorite, though she felt almost surreal to me. I mean, I know for a fact I would have reacted way differently to things. Especially to Gabe’s jerkiness. I’m sorry, but he felt like a jerk to me. Having this whole other life for himself away from her, getting his jollies off and all, then trotting in with his new thing and deciding changing Mia’s life wasn’t a referendum… I mean, I would have SO made him regret that attitude for the rest of his life. I’m sorry, but that’s just me. Him getting together with Kris wasn’t an issue, though I would say I didn’t at all agree with the way he introduced her to Mia’s life. By all means, move on. But don’t do it by bludgeoning your daughter’s support system. I really disliked Gabe from a point on, really really did. Kris was a lot more of a parent to Mia then he ended up being, and that’s a sad situation. And he doesn’t get off the hook with the line of what he lost, sorry. And it especially doesn’t justify him sneaking off to a whole other life for himself then force it down your throat when it suits him. Gah Sorry, I get carried away about these things.
Anyways, this was a really engaging read and a truly touching story. I especially enjoyed the Epilogue part, and the end as ‘The Beginning’ touch. That was a great view on life, in my opinion, and a beautiful way to wrap the story up. I say this book is definitely worth your time, even with those minor editing needs, it’s a great story and it’s written in an engaging and evocative way.
Give it a shot, it will most likely win you over and break your heart all within the first couple of pages.
Do you read dramatic stories or tend to steer clear of them? Are you more of a HEA kind of reader or can you roll with emotional and sad stories with a realistic ending too?