The Opposite of Never: A Novel
Zelda Simmons hasn’t ever been a reliable girl. Beautiful but troubled. Particularly after the death of her mother, her path crosses with star athlete Spencer Paquette when they are both still teenagers, a meeting that changes their lives, the lives of their parents, forever.
The Opposite of Never, the second novel from Mary Kathleen Mehuron, is as riddled with coincidence as it is hope. The heart of the novel is the relationship that grows between Georgia, a recent widow, who realizes she deserved more than the unfulfilling marriage with her dead husband ever gave her, and Kenny, Zelda’s stepfather, a widower himself, whose main ambition in life is to keep Zelda safe. As these two people grow together in grief, a future neither of them ever envisioned alone begins to seem possible.
Set in idyllic Vermont, the novel asks profound questions: How do you forgive yourself for mistakes you made when you were young? How do you go on after you lose someone you love? How do we handle the unrelenting pace of life when all we want to do is shut down? In The Opposite of Never, Mehuron seems to suggest the answer to all of these questions lies in the friendships we build with one another. Georgia’s two closest friends, Linda and Yvonne—the mother of Spencer—help to drag her out of her sorrow when Georgia’s husband passes. The three women share laughter and tears as their children grow and the trio comes to terms with the realities of aging, from the loss of family and friends to menopause. And Kenny, a man who has lived so long alone, finds renewal and reestablishes a home among them and their families.
Mehuron’s attention to detail reveals a lush landscape, from the stunning architecture of her characters’ homes to the hillsides on which they ride horses, camp, and ski. The people in this novel feel imminently familiar and their struggles real. While some may argue a few of the plot twists seem a bit contrived or too coincidental, the conclusion of the novel negates those fears by being a hopeful reminder that our lives may change for the better if we are open, honest, and willing to take the necessary leaps to change them.
Mary Kathleen Mehuron