CAN’T LOOK AWAY by Carola Lovering

Some authors write a different book every time, and some author write the same book every time. I’ve only read two books by Carola Lovering – Too Good To Be True and Can’t Look Away – and based on that admittedly small sample, I am putting her in the second camp. Both books follow a similar pattern, one that I recognized from Too Good To Be True as soon as I got into Can’t Look Away. It’s not a bad pattern, but it lost some appeal the second time around.

Why I picked it up: Can’t Look Away is the next Readerly Report book club pick.

Can’t Look Away straddles two time periods – the mid 2010s and the present. Molly and Jake dated in their twenties, but his career as a rock frontman took its toll on their relationship. Molly broke up with Jake, despite her deep feelings for him, and ended up marrying a different man, Hunter, and moving to the suburbs. Present-day Molly has daughter with Hunter and a rather isolated suburban existence, until she makes a new friend named Sabrina. As we learn in rotating chapters that jump back and forth through time, though, Sabrina is hiding something and has an agenda where Molly is concerned, while Molly herself has some secrets. As the two women’s lives become more intertwined, Sabrina, Molly and Jake end up on a collision course that unearths traumas from the past and threatens their present-day stability.

I know I am being kind of vague. I am trying to avoid spoiling the book, as there are some twists that surprised me and kept me engaged. I am going to offer up one mild spoiler here, though – so stop reading if you don’t want to hear anything more about the book. Ok. You ready? SPOILER NOW: My complaint is that both of Lovering’s books set up the same triangle: the innocent, almost-perfect female protagonist, the flawed but passionate man, and the scheming villain driven mad by jealousy. This construct got a little tired the second time.

That said, Can’t Look Away kept my attention and kept me reading, no small feat these days. I did it on audio and it was an easy listen. There are three narrators, two of whom were fine but one (Sabrina) had a strange voice which was distracting. Other than that, it was a solid performance and a good audiobook.

Can’t Look Away was the 47th book of 2022.