Monday, December 6, 2021

Book Review: Cynthia Starts a Band

Happy Monday! 

Did you guys do anything fun this weekend? I have been busy catching up with my blog, and reviews, made some ornaments, wrapped a bunch of presents, and I think I only have one more to get for one of my kids and then I'm even with everyone. (I have a thing about being even, it drives Matt nuts.) I even ordered our Christmas cards, got our Christmas letter printed, and hopefully I can get those out this week. Oh man.... that means I need to go to the post office. I dread that place in December, it's absolute chaos. Maybe I'll just send Matt... ha! 

Cynthia Starts a Band - Olivia Swindler

Eleanor Quinn was America’s sweetheart.

The lead singer in a wildly successful band and dating the most beautiful man in America, she lives a life most could only dream of. Then on the night of her engagement, she vanishes, leaving the world to wonder where and why she has gone. Eleanor sets out on a journey to regain agency in her life, to be something other than “Eleanor Quinn”. She moves to Seattle determined to find herself again. Riddled with self-doubt, she realizes the only way she can ever be free is to share her side of the story. Although starting over is not as simple as she imagined as the ghosts from her past force their way to her. Cynthia Starts a Band tells the story of starting over and discovering who one is when the world isn’t looking.

Definitely a quick read, this is mostly a book about a character and not really about... things happening, if that makes sense? We have Eleanor/Cynthia, a successful artist, with this great guy, but after this amazing proposal, on stage, things kind of go sideways. It becomes clear that Eleanor/Cynthia is no longer in charge of her own life, so she does what any of us would do, she competely disappears and starts a new life in Seattle. Right? We would all totally do that, I'm sure of it. 

Once there, she decides she's starting over, going back to basics. She's living with her cousin, changes her name to Cynthia, and decides to take a writing class. While this all sounds lovely, you can't run away forever, and it becomes increasingly clear that things can't get better unless she reconciles the things she ran away from to begin with. Her fiance is very much a dirtbag who, to the rest of us reading this book, is completely controlling and abusive and she needs to RUN, not walk away from. Like everything else in life, hindsight is 20/20 and when she is able to put some distance between them, she's slowly realizing that what she thought was normal was incredibly toxic and awful. It wasn't just him either, everything she was surrounded by was essentially using her and while everyone kind of blows it off as show business, Eleanor/Cynthia is deciding that she isn't going to settle with that. 

To be honest, it kind of reminds me of Taylor Swift... kind of. While everyone assumes Eleanor/Cynthia will just go with the flow and let it unfold the way they want it to, she decides she's going to take control of her life for real this time, and tell her side of the story. She's going to stand up for herself and if people don't like it, that's alright because she's OK with who she is. She isn't relying on that validation from others anymore. 

Overall, I liked this one. I liked the story, I found it relatable for all women, I think we all go through that phase where we lose ourselves a bit and it takes a conscious effort to get back to the path we're supposed to be on. I love that the author showcases that relationships can be toxic and abusive without overt violence, which is something that I don't think teens and young adults recognize until they are far away from it, if they even get that chance. I also really liked how the author drove the point home that the key to success and happiness comes from us, that's our job, and no amount of validation from others is going to do that for us longterm. It's OK to be scared to step out on your own, and it's OK to insanely mess up when you do it, but it isn't the end of the world, you can always bounce back. 

Thank you to Morgan James Fiction, author Olivia Swindler, and PR by the Book for having me on this tour! I love reading debut authors, and I am so excited to see what Olivia does next, I definitely encourage you to pick this one up.  

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