Title: The Fourteen Day Soul Detox
Author: Rita Stradling
Release date: 28th March 2017
Reading time: 10-12 hours
It’s been a year since my husband, Logan, died. My life is a mess, and I know things need to change. I give myself fourteen days to fix it. To do this, I must quit coffee, start exercising, spread my husband’s ashes, forgive the woman who killed him, and stop sleeping with her ex-husband.
The Fourteen Day Soul Detox was a bit of a change for me, as I don’t read a lot of women’s fiction, but the blurb piqued my interest, and having previously enjoyed Rita Stradling’s Ensnared, I was really looking forward to it. Sure, there’s no lost Faye queens, or fantastical castles, but variety is the spice of life.
The story picks up a year after the death of Jamie’s husband, Logan, and she’s still very much picking up the pieces. She’s working two jobs in order to dig herself out of the debt Logan landed her in, while taking care of her special needs daughter. She’s also in a messy, sexual relationship with Logan’s best friend, Cameron-who’s been in love with her since High School, and her neighbour is harassing her. To say Jamie is having a hard time would be an understatement.
The Fourteen Day Soul Detox is ultimately a story about overcoming grief, and forgiveness, and Stradling does a good job of representing the journey to closure as the messy, difficult process that it is. It’s clear that Jamie is stuck, barely going through the day-to-day motions, being held down by not only her grief, but also the anger at the betrayals she’s suffered. Her refusal to address either issue means she can’t move on and is on a path of self-destruction.
When grief strikes, it’s hard to know how to do. No one really knows how to deal with it in the ‘wright way’, and sometimes it’s easier to just refuse to deal with it at all. It takes Jamie almost a year to finally accept that it’s time to move on and forgive. She begins by plotting her journey one action at a time, and The Fourteen Day Soul Detox does a brilliant job of showing how a seemingly impossible task-how do you move on from your husband’s death?-can be made manageable by breaking it down into smaller tasks as simple as giving up coffee. Now that doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
This is most certainly a character led novel. Once Jamie finally starts takes action, her life, well, comes to life. She often claims that embarking on the fourteen day soul detox has messed up her life even more, but that’s only because she’s so used to inaction. She’s used to things always being the same. She’s forgotten what it’s like to take action and have to deal with the good and bad consequences of those actions, and it’s interesting to see Jamie re-adjust.
The Fourteen Day Soul Detox was originally released as a six part serial, and the structure seems the reflect that. This is a long book, and it’s a slow burn, designed to stretch the action across six individual parts, but it still reads well as a whole. I never read the serials individually, so I can’t say which format fits this story better, but I found no major issues with the pacing, really.
The characters, however, are fairly bland. Those that with Jamie are downright saintly, always pleasant, always ready to help regardless of inconvenience, and it’s sickly sweet at times. Those against Jamie, are, well, ‘cheerleader evil’. Pretty, primp, and bitchy. Very few of the characters had strong, individual voices, and I didn’t warm up to Cameron for a long time. The way he kept calling Jamie ‘baby’ just grated on me. I don’t know, it just seemed so… Sleazy. If I guy calls me baby, he’s getting sucker punched. Just saying. I did like Patrick though, he had a great sense of humour and never once uttered the word ‘baby’.
The stalker plot is straight forward, and I was expecting a bigger twist that what Stradling devised, to be honest. In fact, all the ‘twists’ were relatively small in my opinion, but maybe that’s because I’m used to reading stuff with far more ambitious plots. I don’t mean that in a negative way though-Stradling’s story is down to earth and realistic, and real lives aren’t made up of mind blowing twists and turns.
The Fourteen Day Soul Detox is not a quick read, but it is an enjoyable one. While there aren’t any mind blowing moments, the journey Jamie embarks on is touching and beautiful. If you like your fiction 100% character led and grounded, I would recommend it. And if you’re not ready to commit to a 700+ page novel, you can always slowly tackle it one bite sized serial at a time.
TL,DR: A character led, grounded and touching story about overcoming grief, and forgiveness.
*I received this ARC free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*