Title: It Started in June by Susan Kietzman
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Susan Kietzman’s engrossing and thought-provoking novel explores the choices and revelations that come with life’s most unexpected events.
Grace Trumbull’s after work drink with Bradley Hanover, a handsome younger colleague, on a warm summer night turns into an impulsive, intimate encounter. After a few weeks of exhilarating secret dates, Grace—forty-two and divorced—realizes she’s pregnant.
For Grace, whose estranged mother refers to her own teenage pregnancy as her biggest mistake, the prospect of parenthood is daunting. She’s just been made vice president of a media relations company and is childfree by choice. Still, something deeper than her fear makes her want to keep the baby. She knows she can be a better, more capable parent than her mother was to her.
As months pass and seasons change, Grace questions her decision to include Bradley in her plans. But they continue to navigate their complicated relationship, each struggling with what it means to make a commitment to someone. Most importantly, Grace begins trusting her instincts—maternal and otherwise—finding courage that will guide her through an uncertain future ripe with new possibilities .
It Started in June by Susan Kietzman is an engaging (but sometimes frustrating) novel about a surprise relationship and an even more unexpected decision about an unintended pregnancy.
Grace Trumbull is a forty-two year old vice president at a media company, divorced and childless by choice. She and thirty-year old Bradley Hanover are assigned to work together and a night of drinking leads to a very steamy encounter in the backseat of her vintage car. They decide to continue seeing one another outside of work and their fledgling relationship is rocked when Grace discovers she is pregnant. Even more shocking is her decision to have the baby but she leaves it is up to Bradley to decide what role, if any, he will have in his baby’s life. Grace is surprised by his decision to stand by her and be an active participant in raising their child, but will their relationship survive such an inauspicious beginning?
Grace’s childhood was sadly lacking in love, encouragement or support yet she has managed to make a good life for herself. She is extremely intelligent and dedicated to her job but in her personal life, she closely guards her heart. Her difficult upbringing is the main reason Grace does not want children and in fact, her lack of desire for kids lead to her divorce years earlier. However, she quickly discovers that a decision in the abstract is very different than when facing in reality. No one is more shocked than Grace when she decides to have the baby, but is she making this decision for the right reasons?
Bradley is a fun-loving man who is quickly moving up the career ladder. He is done with indiscriminate dating and one of the things he enjoys most about Grace is her lack of pretense and her confidence. Bradley is happy with their burgeoning relationship but he is definitely thrown by the pregnancy. His kneejerk reaction is to walk away, but he ultimately decides to stand by Grace and their unborn child. Unfortunately, Bradley is immature and he does not exactly handle his new reality with the same aplomb as Grace. He makes some very stupid decisions that could ultimately destroy what he is building with his new family.
The secondary cast of characters includes Bradley’s parents, Dorrie and Bruce, Grace’s best friend Shannon Greene and Bradley’s close friend, Kevin Bell. Their collective reaction to Grace’s pregnancy is the pretty much the same and their lack of support is appalling. Not one single person is happy about the impending birth and they actively try to dissuade the couple from going through with their plans. It is impossible not to feel a great deal of empathy for Grace as she endures such negativity from the people whom she should have been able to count on for encouragement and help. This part of the storyline is a disappointment due to the continued lack of respect for Grace and Bradley’s decision.
Despite a few minor irritations and a bit of predictability where Bradley is concerned, It Started in June is a captivating novel. Grace is a wonderful lead protagonist who undergoes realistic growth as she embraces motherhood and attempts to reconcile with her estranged mother. Bradley has some very charming qualities but he definitely needs to grow up. Grace and Bradley’s future together hangs in the balance as Susan Kietzman brings the novel to a nail biting conclusion. Fans of contemporary women’s fiction are sure to enjoy this heartwarming novel.