The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
Published by Lake Union Publishing ISBN 9781542042963
Paperback $14.95, 322 pages
The cover of Kelly Harms' delightful novel, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, definitely called out to me with the art work of a woman walking in New York overlaid with the title written on book spines.
Three years ago Amy Byler's husband went on a work trip to Hong Kong and decided to never come back. She became a struggling single mother responsible for their two children, 12 year-old Cori and 8 year-old Joe. With the help of her best friend Lena she got a job as a librarian in her children's private school in their hometown in a small Pennsylvania town.
Out of the blue, Amy's husband John says he is coming back and would like to spend a week with the kids. Amy is dumbfounded but after asking the kids if they are willing, she takes the opportunity to spend a week in New York City at a teacher's reading conference at Columbia University.
She stays with her old friend Talia, the editor of a woman's magazine. Talia has a brilliant idea- a magazine spread about what she calls Amy's #Momspringa- a break where Amy gets to do whatever she wants before she returns home to her reality.
Talia's assistant Matt arranges for Amy to get a complete makeover, new clothes, go to spin class, and the Twitter postings about it become so popular that Amy starts getting requests for dates from eligible men. Her husband has been dating a young woman since he left, so Amy agrees to go on a few prescreened dates.
Her dating life is eye-opening, but Amy can't stop thinking about Daniel, otherwise known as "hot librarian" at the conference. They spend a great night together, but reluctantly decide to be just friends.
When John asks to spend the entire summer with the kids and they agree to it, Amy gets to extend her #Momspringa for the rest of the summer. Amy's excellent adventure consists of wandering the city, eating at restaurants, and spending time with Daniel going to see Shakespeare in the Park.
The funniest parts of this wonderful story are the journal writings of Cori. Her mom wants Cori to read during the summer and journal about it, and Cori's letters to her mom are hilarious. I laughed out loud at every one of them. The text message exchanges between Amy and friends Talia and Lena are also so funny, mostly because most of us can look at our own phones and find similar group text chains from our friends.
Harms used to live in New York City, and The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is a love letter to the city. (Although I did question why Daniel, a NYCer, didn't know not to get on an empty subway car. You learn that your first week in NYC.) After reading this book, you will definitely want to book a trip to NYC pronto.
The characters are people you want to know, from Amy and the kids to Lena, Talia, Matt and Daniel. Since Amy is a librarian there are some great reading suggestions in there for teen readers. I also loved the reading program that Amy created and presented at the conference.
Reading The Overdue Life of Amy Byler will take you out of your life for a few hours, just like Amy got to leave her responsibilites, and just like Amy you'll find it a welcome adventure. I highly recommend it.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Kelly Harms' tour. The rest of her stops are here: