BOOK REVIEW: I'm Still Here by Kathryn Biel

It started out as an ordinary day for Esther Comely-Cox, if you consider simultaneously totaling your car, smashing a Ho Ho in your face and meeting a handsome doctor ordinary.
Estranged from her family over her sister's mental illness and death, Esther can't help but feel alone. And when Esther hears the voice of her twin sister who committed suicide seven years ago, she begins to question her own sanity, leading her to wonder if anything is what it seems. Searching for answers, Esther must confront her past while looking towards a new future—one in which she is finally accepted.
Through humor and heartbreak, Esther learns that blood does not mean family, that absence does not make the heart grow fonder and that silence can speak volumes.

This book was a jump into something a little different than my last few reads.  Ester, youngest of 7 children, of her 'crunchy' hippy-dippy parents wasn't just the youngest, she was a twin.  Said twin had left a suicide note 7 years ago and disappeared from the face of the earth.  No body was found so Mom and Dad, wait no sorry Dean and Cheryl, refused to believe she was dead.  Mom and Dad didn't want to be called Mom and Dad, so Dean and Cheryl it was.  Ester, however, was not convinced that her sister was alive and said so.  Slowly but surely her family cut her out of everything, throwing a birthday party for Aster (the twin) and inviting Ester without caring that it was also her birthday.  Parenting Win?  Needless to say massive estrangement, not actually initiated by Ester.

Through an initial series of unfortunate events, you know Ho Ho encrusted car accident, Ester's life takes a dramatic turn.  Think sideways falling in love with a charming nee perfect hero who also happens to be a doctor that's apparently pretty delectable, and sweet, and kind, and...  Ester negotiates the idea that she is more than everything her family convinced her she was.  Ester learns that you can find love.  Ester learns that things aren't ways what them seem.  And sometimes, you get second chances.  And sometimes second changes aren't all they are cracked up to be and were never on the table to begin with.

Truth is there's some typos and editing issues with this book.  Truth is the story line is a bit over the top for me.  A little too pat you could say.  But I appreciate that you don't always get the total package happy ending that this book provided to me.  I read a review that questioned the age of the writer due to some of the pop culture references and dialogue in the story.  I appreciated it.  As a *cough* middle age *gag* woman I appreciate the fact that not everyone tells there story like a matron.  Personally notorious for my own interesting way of communicating with the world I appreciated the offhandedness that was in this book as well.  Biel did a good job of educating about the impact of mental illness on a family without feeling like it was a lecture that pushed off responsibility onto someone else.  She also did a great job of telling a story that offered redemption while also making it perfectly OK to not find the gold at the end of the rainbow.  Because sometimes, it's not the gold you need by the trip through the rainbow to find the treasure.  It's not always what you thought it was nor where you expected it to be.

Love doesn't conquer all, but then again not all things need conquering.  

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I'm Still Here

About Kathryn Biel
Kathryn Biel hails from Upstate New York, and is a spouse and mother of two wonderful, but exhausting kids. In between being Chief Home Officer and Director of Child Development of the Biel household, she works as a school-based physical therapist. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. After years of writing countless letters of medical necessity for wheelchairs, finding increasingly creative ways to encourage the government and insurance companies to fund her client's needs, and writing entertaining annual Christmas letters, she decided to take a shot at writing the kind of novel that she likes to read. Her musings and rants can also be found on her personal blog, Biel Blather.

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