The Half of It
- Expected Apr 11, 2023
“Fay beautifully navigates the layers of family and friendship, the great loves we lose, the imperfect marriages we manage with grace, and the unexpected miracles that will astonish us.”
—Randy Susan Meyers, international bestselling author of Waisted
One perfect night. Forty years of buried hurt. One chance to make it right. Can the past ever be fixed? With humor, heart, and grace, USA Today bestselling author Juliette Fay delivers a poignant, propulsive novel about settling the past, rekindling lost friendships, and discovering love when you least expect it.
“I’m wondering if we can be friends again.”
When 58-year-old Helen Spencer reviews her life, what she sees are the mistakes. Over the years, things seemed to go sideways incrementally, one little wrong decision at a time. She can even pinpoint where it all started to go awry: a wonderous, romantic night in the woods her senior year of high school with a boy named Cal Crosby. A night she would soon work hard to forget.
Forty years, one marriage, three children, and one grandbaby later, suddenly there he is—Cal Crosby!—right in front of her with grandchildren of his own in tow. The chance to finally get some answers and sort out what happened is within reach. But Helen would much prefer to keep that night and all the fury, hurt, and sorrow that followed tightly locked away where she doesn’t have to face it.
Cal Crosby, however, is ready to talk. He has no idea of the can of worms he’s about to open. In fact, he doesn’t know the half of it.
A woman finds closure 40 years after being betrayed by her first love in this lukewarm tale of forgiveness and redemption from Fay (Catch Us When We Fall). In 1981, 18-year-old Helen Spencer had what she believed to be a romantic first time with Cal Crosby, only for Cal to return to his girlfriend, leaving Helen with a ruined reputation and chlamydia. Cal has spent decades regretting his actions, and when he sees Helen again, he's desperate to make amends. Now a widow, Helen is ready to let go of the past, and even musters empathy for Cal who, having made work his priority over the years, has reluctantly agreed to an open marriage with his wife. Through alternating timelines, readers learn Helen and Cal's unsurprising history: they were simply too young to understand the possible consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, Fay's handling of sexually transmitted infections feels overwrought and somewhat stigmatizing. Much better done is the present timeline, in which the duo embarks on a friendship as fellow grandparents, often meeting up for playdates and thereby raising concerns with their adult children who spot their lingering love. This tepid second-chance romance has a shaky foundation, but the deep connection between the protagonists rings true. Agent: Stéphanie Abou, Massie & McQuilkin.