Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: More Like Her by Liza Palmer

Title: More Like Her

Author: Liza Palmer

Rating: 4.5 Stars

I didn't expect More Like Her to wind up being my favorite Liza Palmer novel, but it is - it most definitely is. Both romantic and horrific, comforting and shocking, this isn't the warm story of Nowhere But Home or the amusing tale of Seeking Me Naked. Instead, it's much rawer, realer, and makes truly worthy statements about self-esteem and society. Just...impeccable. 

Frances is a guidance counselor at the prestigious Markham School, vying for a promotion alongside her best friend, Jill. Where Jill is in a steady relationship, however, Frances is recently single--yet again--and is eager to prove herself to the new headmistress, Emma. From the outside, Emma is everything Frances aspires to be--sophisticated, intelligent, and successful. When a bullying incident brings her closer to the headmistress, however, Frances discovers that behind the veneer of perfection, Emma is hurting, broken, and doubtful. With time, Frances and Emma only grow closer, on the cusp of an unbreakable friendship, when tragedy strikes.

From the surface, More Like Her seems to be nothing more than the far-too-often-retold tale of an unlucky woman who, when it comes to romance, never seems to get it right. In reality, though, this is merely a skin-deep perception of this novel. Palmer writes friendships--relationships, really--with such a careful, nuanced construction that we learn to understand them completely. From the perceptions our friends have of us to the minute details which comprise a tight friendship, Palmer presents the relationships between Frances and Jill, Frances and Lisa (another co-worker of hers who becomes a close friend), and most importantly, Frances and Emma with complexity and depth. Every one of these four women are real, filled with their insecurities and flaws, which makes them come alive on the page, their hearts suddenly stuck in our throats as Palmer unapologetically forces us to feel every emotion throughout this narrative. 

What's more, More Like Her is the type of novel whose pages we turn to a close but whose story lingers in our minds for days to come. You see, Emma's husband--all part of the veneer of her "perfect" life--brings a gun to a school event one evening and the lives of Frances and her friends are forever changed. Not only does Palmer write about a tragedy of this magnitude with poise and aplomb--particularly as this is not a novel that touches upon gun rights in the least--but she also manages to bring about growth from this event. As Frances is forced to look into her own life, she is made to look past the facades we all live with and accept as part of our lives, just as Emma likely accepted her husband for who he was and refused to see past his "calm" and "normal" exterior. It was Emma's own lack of self-worth that enabled her to keep living with a man who couldn't appreciate her value or give her the freedom to pursue the passions she wished and following the events of this tragedy, Frances--a single woman who may-or-may-not be falling in love--is forced to come to terms with her own self-worth. Whether or not she needs a man to keep her happy. Whether she truly sees herself as she is or simply sees a construct built by society that makes us view ourselves as inferior. It's a fascinating breakdown of our psyche and, what's more, Palmer observes this with each and every one of Frances friends, from her lover to her best friend Jill who seems to have everything put together in her life, particularly her love life. 

More Like Her, for all the serious subject matter it touches upon, is compulsively readable and, for the most part, a fairly light read as well. Moreover, the friendships within these pages will touch your heart, the romance will make you swoon (and smile and sigh and dream and cause butterflies to flutter in your stomach and your breath to catch and all of that), and most importantly, the characters will nearly (but not actually) outstay their welcome in your heart. It seems like the most innocent, unassuming of stories but--trust me--it'll change your life, at least a little. For me, there's no greater admission than the fact that words can change lives, but Palmer's have changed mine; irrevocably.


  1. I have to say, this isn't a book I'd pick up at first. The cover is very "chick lit" (not that I have anything against chick lit) and the blurb just doesn't stand out. But throw in cracked veneer of a "perfect" life and a story that evokes strong reactions and feelings = worth checking out.

  2. Romantic and horrific? That's definitely an unusual combination to find in a single book! Normally I would stay far away from this book due to the school shooting as, like cancer books, they're just a little too real for me and I like to escape when I'm reading. Clearly everything in this book is handled really well though, so I'm tentatively adding it to my list. Gorgeous review as always!

  3. Ahh, Keertana, your reviews never fail to take my breath away. I LOVE books that change you, because that's one of the reasons I read in the first place. To learn, to grow, to feel, and to be changed for the better. I'm currently binge reading The Infernal Devices series, and I'm on Clockwork Princess, and I can feel that this series is one that's going to linger, just like this book did with you.

    It's so amazing to hear about the deep friendships built in this story. I love books that focus on those and not just a romantic interest, because a person's life is more than who they're currently with romantically.

    I am also loving the sound of the ideas of self-worth present in this book. I love how it really delves into the psyche and challenges ideas that the characters and us readers hold. That's exactly what a fantastic book does.

    Phenomenal review, Keertana. This book is one that I'll definitely have to put on my TBR, it seems too wonderful to pass up! <3

  4. This is the first I am seeing this one and it does sound good. Thanks so much for putting this one on my radar!

  5. I'll be honest, I don't often pick up books like this one, but your review definitely has me intrigued. I love the sound of the friendships and the romance of course, but more than that, I love that this is the sort of book where you can reflect upon and that the story stays with you even after you turn the last page. I like stories that can change my opinion on certain subject matters, so I am definitely looking forward to reading this book. Glad you enjoyed this, Keertana! Fabulous review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair

  6. It's been so long since I've read a story that's stayed with me for days after reading it. That, alone, makes me want to pick this up! It sounds like there's a real subtle beauty and power to it, and the fact that you rated it so highly is case enough for me…lovely review, Keertana!

  7. I'm glad you you loved it, Keertana. The only palmer novel I've read is Seeking me Naked. I'm looking out for a book with friendships and romance. I would love to read this and I'm sure it would give a change in me as well. Fantastic review!! (:

  8. Wow, I've never heard of this book or writer, but this sounds amazing! Definitely sounds like something I'd love. I can't believe all the school shootings we've been having! I like that this incorporates such a current issue. Brilliant review, Keertana! :)

  9. Again another author I've never heard of but this book sounds like I must read it. You don't give books such glowing reviews easily. Off to get a copy. Thanks for such a compelling review.

  10. Wow, Keertana--you've yet again convinced me to pick up a book I normally probably wouldn't have given a second glance to. How could I not when you say things like "romantic and horrific, comfortin and shocking" and "rawer, realer," and reference self-esteem and society?

    Nuanced construction and complicated relationships sound fantastic, too. Thank you! adding it to my TBR.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  11. Wow, you actually have me considering a book I would normally not pick up. From what I've heard of her writing, it seems that I need to read something by Liza Palmer, whether this one or Nowhere But Home. I love how she takes away a character's facade and reveals their complex identity. Lovely review, Keertana!

  12. I never would have guessed that was the book between the covers. This is something that I usually balk at but then really get lost into. I balk because of the strong emotions it will evoke, but I usually end up loving it in the same way you describe. Oh this is one I have to add to the wishlist.

  13. Nowhere but Home is definitely one of my favorite novels so I am really glad to see you enjoyed this one even more.

    I don't doubt I would love it but at the same time I am not so sure this is the kind of book I'd want to pick up right away. It seems so emotionally draining and so intense and just so moving.

    Lovely review, Keertana!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  14. I'm sold. After having read and loved Palmer's Nowhere But Home, I was already planning on reading another one of her books soon. It sounds like there's no better place to continue reading her works than with More Like Her.
    Again, the subject matter isn't something that necessarily interests me, but I trust that Palmer will make it relatable and just work.
    Lovely, lovely review, Keertana, and I'm so glad you enjoyed this one so much!

  15. You made this one sound amazing, Keertana! I need to go back and read Palmer's backlist because clearly I'm missing out. I loved Nowhere But Home, but I'm eager to see how she does something a little more serious. I love that this focuses so heavily on friendships, and also that romance is a part of it. I always can use more of that in my life. Thanks for making me excited about this one!

  16. You made this one sound amazing, Keertana! I need to go back and read Palmer's backlist because clearly I'm missing out. I loved Nowhere But Home, but I'm eager to see how she does something a little more serious. I love that this focuses so heavily on friendships, and also that romance is a part of it. I always can use more of that in my life. Thanks for making me excited about this one!


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