Book Review: Snowed In by Navessa Allen
This is a really, really good book. I’m going to say that right up front before I hit you with the BUT.
BUT. It’s not the book it’s being marketed as. If you look at the cover and blurb, you’re going to think this is a funny, charming rom-com and although it does have some humorous moments, there’s way too much deep and difficult stuff addressed for that description to be an accurate one. What this really is, is a contemporary romance where the main couple have to overcome some serious adversity caused by major health issues, and it's actually executed beautifully for the most part.
Ben Kakoa is a former football star who walked away from the game after his brother’s shocking death, caused by a seizure from traumatic brain injuries sustained playing football. Ben’s fighting the league for player welfare, dealing with his ghosts, and having to face down the possibility he might have a ticking time bomb in his own head as well. Hiding out in a remote part of Maine, he’d rather not meet anyone at all, but Ella Jones and her two huskies somehow find their way into his life and the next thing he knows, he’s falling for her - even though he might not have any kind of future to share.
Anyone who’s seen a loved one lose themselves to dementia or serious brain injury knows how difficult it is. Knowing that’s very likely in your future when you’re only in your twenties, as Ben is, is extremely difficult to come to terms with, and that’s where the author really shines. Ben and Ella both seek therapy as they try to deal with the anticipatory grief, and this is where it gets interesting, because Ella has her issues as well. Knowing from the start who Ben is and that he lost his brother under such tragic circumstances, she does her best to be only a ‘bright spot’ in Ben’s life, but eventually realises that if they’re to have any sort of relationship, she has to be honest with him.
Honestly, I feel like this is such an important story. It’s real, it’s powerful, it doesn’t shy away from the terrible things Ben and Ella are facing and yet it also finds time for jokes and lightness; it’s very real life in that way, because even in the dark times, we can still find things to make us smile, and I think showing that love can blossom at those times is something which really matters too.
This isn’t a light or easy read, even though there’ll be times when you smile and maybe laugh. And I think it’s a massive shame that it’s being marketed as something it’s not, because inevitably readers are going to be disappointed that it’s not the story they expected. I am, however, going to rate it for the story it actually is, which means it gets 5 stars from me.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.