Two strangers meet by chance, put just enough trust in one another to share bits of their past, spend one intense weekend together and end up saving each other … what’s not to love? This Close To Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith kept me engrossed from beginning to end and was enjoyed by all in my book club. We appreciated the character development, the descriptive writing and the life-altering weekend that resulted in hope.

A human story of serendipity, kindness and real life issues, This Close to Okay begins with an averted tragedy. On her way home at the end of a rainy day, Tallie sees a man preparing to jump off a bridge. She stops to talk him out of harming himself and convinces him to go for a cup of coffee. They exchange some dreaded small talk, reveal slivers of themselves in some deeper conversation and ultimately when he has nowhere to go, the man accepts the invitation to stay over with Tallie in her warm and welcoming home.

LEARNING TO DISCOVER OURSELVES

Neither shares everything about their past and who they truly are, so we are faced with different perspectives and have to think about the reliability of each narrator. With alternating points of view, we learn about these two characters and what they have been through while witnessing their developing relationship over the course of one weekend.

Leesa Cross-Smith doesn’t shy away from difficult and emotional topics like suicide, race and divorce. In contrast, she also voices her own opinions on more personal anecdotes, like social media … and the X Files. With her visual and descriptive writing skills, many coping mechanisms and communication tactics are exhibited through the characters and we slowly learn important information about them as each chapter unfolds. 

Helping others can be helpful and nurturing to oneself and in this enjoyable story, that just might be the case. I loved the pace of this book and the bits and pieces revealed along the way. A story of two strangers, their budding relationship, one life-changing weekend and all that goes on, is a nice little package and makes for a great read. I highly recommend it!

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of This Close to Okay, So We Can Glow, Whiskey and Ribbons, Every Kiss a War, and the forthcoming novel Half-Blown Rose from Grand Central Publishing. This Close to Okay was a Book of the Month Early Release Pick for December 2020, the Good Housekeeping Book Club Pick for February 2021 and the Marie Claire Book Club Pick for March 2021. She was longlisted for the 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize and So We Can Glow was listed as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. Whiskey and Ribbons won the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) Gold Medal in Literary Fiction, was longlisted for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was one of O Magazine’s 2018 Top Books of Summer. Every Kiss A War was nominated for the PEN Open Book Award (2014) and was a finalist for both the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (2012) and the Iowa Short Fiction Award (2012).