Strong Enough by Ellen Harger
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Women’s fiction
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Starting over is hard. And sometimes, you have to burn a few bridges to do it.
Whitney Brown is average--average height, weight, and personality--but she wants to be someone new. To kick-start her rebirth, she wears formal mourning, a black veil and vintage dress, to a wedding in her hometown, Woods Cross, a community that treasures family values. Is it an attack on marriage or has she just gone bonkers?
Emboldened but lacking a plan, she forces her foot in the door of a radio station in Sundown. A small metropolis of nearly 150,000, Sundown is a notch of urban flair along the Midwest's Bible Belt.
Getting in proves to be the easy part and the anonymity of being a DJ suits her well. But off air (and in person), Whitney must stand up to Sadi, an angry feminist and the bane of her college years while an old friendship with her former roommate, Leah, devolves around a guy.
It's 2002 and the Midwest radio scene is changing. Just as Whitney hits her groove, the radio station undergoes its own identity crisis. But what rocks Whitney to her core is the moment the condom breaks. Her abstinence only background leaves her embarrassed and facing a difficult choice.
This book was truly a pleasant surprise to me. I was immediately drawn into the novel by the main character, Whitney, and able to relate to her to a big degree. I too, was raised in a small town in the mid-west, and I could relate to her ‘average’ ness, and to her desire to rise above it, start over and create a new life for herself. That as a theme, undoubtedly in my mind, speaks to a great deal many readers who struggle with those same issues.
When I started reading, I felt for Whitney when she was dealing with Sadi and Leah because the interactions were so realistic. This is not a novel of impossibilities. This is a realistic, relatable novel. She has a history with both of these women; Leah, whom she considers a friend though Leah is usually too buried in guy drama to be bothered with Whitney unless she needs something; and Sadi—Leah’s cousin who is the total opposite of Leah. Rather than having to be in a relationship all the time, she’s constantly pushing away the men in her life.
This book explores many themes, including friendship among women, growing and changing as a person, and of course, the complexities of romantic entanglement. It was very well plotted, the pacing was steady through the book. If you’re looking for a novel full of action, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re looking for in-depth character studies, give it a try. It’s worth your time.
Although the book is a bit open-ended in its conclusion and I don’t generally like those kinds of books, it worked for this one. At first it annoyed me, but now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I rather like the way the novel concluded. I give this book a four heart review and look forward to future work from Harger.
Ellen Harger was born at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. As a military brat, she moved often during her childhood--something she never resented and continued as an adult. The constant starting over influenced her first published novel, "Strong Enough."
At 14, her family settled in Missouri as civilians, permitting Ellen to attend one high school. She stayed in the Midwest to attend a small liberal arts college, studying creative writing and art. After 11 years, she moved to Boston. While there, she continued to study creative writing in Cambridge. Ever willing to explore new places, she moved next to the San Francisco Bay area. After 11 years away, and loving the symmetry, she returned to the Midwest to finish "Strong Enough." She has published a poem, "Guidelines," and released her novel as an e-book.
Giveaway: (10) eBook copies and signed swag, opened internationally.