Jacqueline Firkins’s THE PREDICTABLE HEARTBREAKS OF IMOGEN FINCH - An Auto-Read Author's Newest Book
by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
Thanks to partners NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the digital ARC of Jacqueline Firkins’s The Predictable Heartbreaks of Imogen Finch (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm). The book will be published on October 31!
The Predictable Heartbreaks of Imogen Finch is Jacqueline Firkins’s fourth book—I’ve loved every single one of them. Her first two books, How Not to Fall in Love and Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things (a retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park), are young adult romance novels; the next two, Marlowe Banks, Redesigned and this one, are adult romance. She excels at writing for both audiences—all of these books completely swept me away.
What I appreciate most about Firkins’s books is the way she develops her characters. These are real, complex, flawed people with lives outside of the central relationship. Love conquers a lot, but not all, and sometimes, characters’ lives aren’t in a place where they can embrace love just yet.
That dynamic is very much at play here.
Imogen Finch has known her whole life that she’ll never be first at anything, even at love. When she was a child, her mother shared this prophecy, and now, 20+ years later, it has proven to be true: Imogen’s heart has been broken 17 times, and she has lost at everything she’s ever tried to do: every game, every contest, every election. She’s never been higher than second.
The heartbreak started with her first crush, Eliot Swift, who is also one of her two best friends, though she hasn’t heard from him since he left a decade ago. When he returns for his estranged father’s funeral, however, Eliot decides that he’s going to help Imogen break her losing streak.
The premise is fun enough, but it’s these people, these characters, who resonated with me. Imogen loves her mother dearly and has committed to caring for her in her childhood home, despite the dreams she once had of being an artist and living in the city. Imogen’s mother’s eccentricities mean that she can’t keep a job, so Imogen has cobbled together several, waiting tables and walking dogs and working at the hardware store, while her mom pursues her need to see and share the future.
Eliot has wandered since he left, seeking adventure and amassing millions of YouTube followers for his channel, The Un-lonesome Wanderer, which details his travels around the globe. Though his life strikes many as glamorous, he’s also escaping the wealth and privilege and confining expectations that his parents gave him instead of affection.
As Imogen and Eliot and their best friend Franny re-forge their friendship, they also begin to share the truths that they had held back as teenagers, and Imogen starts to come to terms with the decisions she’s made and the part she has played in living out her mother’s prophecy.
I love the friends’ conversations, the ways that they show their friendship and affection for each other, and the ways that they both accept each other and encourage each other to grow. Watching Imogen navigate the return of her very first heartbreaker is a beautiful journey. This book confirmed, once again, that I will read absolutely everything Jacqueline Firkins writes.
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