This was my first time reading one of Christina Baker Kline’s novels, though I’ve noticed a lot of positive comments about her books around the blogosphere and have had Orphan Train on my shelf for a while. The Way Life Should Be is women’s fiction with a slight chick-lit feel. It had a first person present tense narrative, which for some reason struck me: I felt like Amanda was right there in front of me, telling me her story. Amanda has suppressed her naturally adventurous spirit over the years, and is in this weird stage that falls somewhere between feeling like she needs a man in her life and wanting to be completely self-reliant. I liked the pull between the two; it felt realistic.
There was an insta-romance at the start. Okay. Not my thing at all, but somehow it wasn’t annoying here, so I stuck with it (and was glad I did). The book was also a little predictable, but that didn’t matter much, either. On the flip side, it would have been the easiest thing in the world for Kline to wrap up this novel in any number of expected, typical ways, but she didn’t. This one had an open ending that made complete, perfect sense.
Kline crafts a story that’s so enjoyable. It’s perfect whenever you want a light, comfort read. It’s easy to live vicariously through her characters. As a bonus, tasty Italian recipes are included at end of the novel. I know I’ll be reaching for Kline’s other novels in the future.