My goodness, it’s hard to get book reviews written these days. Homeschooling takes up ALL of my time from 8-3 and sometimes later (and during our breaks, I’m scrambling to get housework and cooking done, so there’s no review writing getting done there). What little reading I’m able to do gets squished in at night (and this month, I read a few books I don’t feel called to review (parenting book, book for my volunteer job, etc). I’m trying, I promise! It’s one of my goals this year to knock off all the ebooks on my list (since they’ve been sitting there for a while), and This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith (Grand Central Publishing, 2021) was the next one on that list to be available through my Libby app.
First off, this book centers on some heavy topics and comes with a few trigger warnings. This Close to Okay deals mainly with suicide, and the subject comes up often. There are also mentions of the death of a child later on, along with a scene (and brief mentions of the aftermath) of a burn accident. Make sure you’re able to handle these topics before picking up the book, and if now is not the time, take care of yourself and your mental health and go for a different book.
Driving home one night, therapist Tallie comes across a man standing on a bridge, poised to jump. Unable to walk away, she brings the man, who calls himself Emmett, back to her home, where she cares for him and the two begin to forge a connection. Emmett is a mystery; he won’t explain his past or what brought him to the bridge in the first place, but Tallie finds two notes in his jacket pocket that only compound the mystery of who Emmett is.
Emmett has run from his life and is making up for that by getting overly involved in Tallie’s (secretly emailing her ex-husband from a fake email account he sets up) and alternately considering returning to the bridge. Both he and Tallie are hiding things from each other despite their growing closeness, but Emmett’s secrets are beyond devastating. After a tragedy strikes at Tallie’s brother’s annual Halloween party and Emmett steps in to save the day, his secrets come out, and Emmett will be forced to reckon with what he wants his future to look like.
This didn’t really click with me. I think the first part of the premise – the therapist who stumbles upon a suicidal man on a bridge – was what brought me to the book in the first place, but what happens next – she takes him to her house?!?? – seems entirely unethical. I can’t imagine any practicing therapist worth their salt, who wouldn’t want to lose their license, wouldn’t go all-out trying to get the person some serious mental healthcare. I know, I know that mental health hospital beds are incredibly difficult to come by, if not downright impossible, but it seems to me that Tallie was at least obligated to try. Bringing a suicidal stranger into your home, as a single woman, seems unwise at best.
Emmett’s story, when it comes out, is terrible and tragic, but – spoiler alert – while he’s not Tallie’s client, the two of them hopping into bed together just days after he nearly killed himself seems unprofessional and unethical on Tallie’s part at best. It seriously felt icky to me. That said, I did like Tallie as a character, for the most part. She’s independent and thoughtful, focused on her future and building up her life after her divorce (which she’s still trying to heal from).
I didn’t dislike this one, but I had a difficult time getting past the initial, “Why aren’t you taking this suicidal man straight to the hospital?” That threw the whole rest of the book off for me.