Can a man and woman be friends? Harry asked Sally this in the popular 80’s flick, and one of my favorite movies of all time, When Harry Met Sally. This assumes that the man and the woman we are speaking of are interested in the opposite sex. Rebecca Kelley’s debut novel, Broken Homes & Gardens, also attempts to answer this question for the modern reader.
Malcolm and Joanna meet at a party and subsequently end up in bed and then write letters to each other while he goes overseas for a year. They were never really friends, were they? Of course they were. Kelley does a beautiful job of pulling together their friendship and the attraction for the length of the novel. We see how they complement each other. Joanna is a little boxed in and must follow her self-imposed rules and teaches Malcolm to answer for his actions. Malcolm is more open and free and teaches Joanna to let go.
Joanna is convinced that she only wants to be friends with Malcolm in order to remain in his life forever. If they were to get into a romantic entanglement it would end sooner rather than continue on into infinity. Joanna struggles wholeheartedly to deny herself her feelings for Malcolm that we wonder if they will ever end up together, or if they even should.
Malcom on the other hand is a strong character who knows what he wants, but isn’t sure if he can win over the part of Joanna that struggles to push him away. Malcolm is just the type of level-headed, laid back, and good-with-his-hands type of guy that a lot women would love to have vying for their attention. Yet, Joanna struggles with the concept of getting into a long-term relationship with him.
The passion portrayed on the pages lends to the overall authenticity created within the lives of these characters. We are driven to root for these two to somehow make it through their own self-imposed restrictions and hope they end up together.
Kelley answers the question I posed at the beginning of this review with: men and women can be friends and lovers if they listen to their hearts.
Interview with the author to come! Check my website for the update.
Disclaimer: I am friends with the author and received a review copy.