Category Archives: The Sweetest Days

Review: The Sweetest Days by John Hough

Title: The Sweetest Days by John Hough
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


This “gorgeous and heartbreaking” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author) portrait of marriage explores the long union of a middle-aged couple as they grapple with secrets, illness, and loyalty from the author of the “original, profound novel” (Lee Smith, author of On Agate HillSeen the Glory.

Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone expected them to marry immediately but an explosive incident tore them apart before graduation. It took years for the two to heal and finally come back together. Now, decades later, they face an uncertain future with their only child out on her own and alarming news about Jackie’s health.

Determined to stay positive, the two travel to their Cape hometown for a book signing of Pete’s debut novel. But when a disastrous encounter in the bookstore with an old classmate brings their long relationship to the breaking point, they are forced to examine their marriage and explore their deepest feelings.

A “riveting exploration of the challenges and complexities of a long, loving marriage” (Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life), The Sweetest Days is a rich, vivid, and enthralling look at the roads taken and not taken in love and life.


The Sweetest Days by John Hough is a reflective novel about a long-married couple facing a health crisis.

Jackie and Pete Hatch are long married, high-school sweethearts who return to their hometown for a few days. Pete’s first novel has just been published and he is doing some publicity at a local bookstore. Their visit is a bit of a disaster as Pete finally reveals the long-held secret that lead to their break-up when they were still teenagers. Jackie does not handle the revelation well and she makes a decision that she quickly comes to regret.

Jackie and Pete are not very likable characters. Jackie is, of course, worried about her health diagnosis. She is unhappy with a very negative attitude that she does not temper. As Pete looks back on the event that ended their relationship, readers learn the truth about his thoughts on their wedding day. This flashback is long-winded and does not paint him in the best light.  After this walk down memory lane, Jackie needs time alone as she comes to terms with his secret. Filled with remorse after her impulsive mistake, what will happen to Jackie and Pete’s marriage?

The Sweetest Days is an unevenly paced novel about forgiveness and redemption. The characters are not easy to like since they both seem a little self-absorbed. The flashbacks take the reader through Jacki and Pete’s high school romance, separation, and eventually, their reunion that culminates in their marriage. The best part of the novel comes occurs very late in the book as John Hough brings Jackie and Pete’s story to a realistic conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery Books, John Hough, Rated C, Review, The Sweetest Days, Women's Fiction