Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: "Planning to Live" by Heather Wardell

30-something Rhiannon is on a strict diet, determined to lose 40 pounds before her best friend's August wedding. Despite her determination not to stray from the plan, the pounds refuse to fall off and Rhiannon leaves Christmas dinner at her parent's house instead of being tempted by all of her favourite foods. The driving conditions are icy and the next things she knows Rhiannon's car has veered off of the road into a tree. Her foot is trapped and bleeding, and her cell phone is out of reach, so Rhiannon has no choice but to patiently await rescue.

As the weather gets colder and a rescue seems less and less likely, Rhiannon starts writing good-bye letters to her friends and family. While writing she realizes that despite her careful planning and goal-setting she's never really lived her life to the fullest. Will she be rescued in time? Will she really learn to live?

Planning to Live is the latest release from Canadian author Heather Wardell. It took on a decidedly more somber tone than the previous book that I read, Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many, however I appreciated Wardell's careful examination of an overweight woman terrified of failure. I especially appreciated the authenticity of Rhiannon's voice. Wardell truly captured the ongoing internal dialogue of a woman who has let a few extra pounds come between her and living life to the fullest. As a woman who has gone through life carrying those extra pounds myself I found myself nodding along as Rhiannon explored how the opinions of others has easily directed her own actions in the past.

This isn't one of your whiny "oh-I'm-so-fat" books, though. Wardell also examines how Rhiannon is afraid to love again following the brutal murder of her fiance over a year ago. She writes about Rhiannon's emotional paralysis, and occasional inability to move forward in her life. After everything that she had endured in the past couple of years- her fiance's death, nasty comments about her weight, deliberate sabotage by disgruntled fellow employees- I truly rooted for a happy ending to Rhiannon's story.

Interesting and articulate, with the main character posessing a voice both authentic and believable, Planning to Live is a book that I recommend to readers looking for women's fiction with heart.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Women's fiction readers
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, The Canadian Book Challenge 4


  1. This sounds like a good book! I'll add it to my list....thanks for the great review!

  2. This sounds like quite the emotional read!

  3. Well, not exactly a cheery read, it sounds like -- but very interesting!

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