Book review of 99 Days: Flashbacks appeal to readers

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By:  Staff Writer Charley Hrobsky  

Protagonist, Molly Barlow, has 99 days to fix all of the broken relationships she left when she ran off to Bristol, Az, from the secrets she kept; author Katie Cotugno features Molly in her second novel called 99 Days.

Day one of the story starts out with Molly’s house being egged by her ex-boyfriend’s sister, Julia. This begins the onslaught of memories from before Molly left Star Lake, the cutest small town name of which I have ever heard. The book’s synopsis does not begin to tell readers what the story is about, and more than expected meets the eye to this contemporary book. Molly begins as a girl who lays around inside her dark house all day purposely avoiding her neighbors’ eyes.

As the story goes on and Molly’s character develops, she grows to become more social through a certain someone called Gabe. I love Gabe. Gabe Donnelly is Molly’s ex-boyfriend’s, Patrick, brother. The relationships in this book are all tangled and then untangled. It is a huge mess of ropes, especially when it comes to Molly’s friends, Imogen and Tessa, and Julia Donnelly, Patrick’s twin sister. The characters all appear to be shallow characters, but just as Molly’s character develops, so do the secondary characters. My favorite characters in the book are definitely Gabe and Imogen.

Beginning  with Imogen, readers meet her as a waitress working in a diner. Imogen first appears as a stuck-up girl who does not act as if Molly is her best friend. Imogen, however, finally explodes in Molly’s face, in a nice way, and all the walls she built come crashing down falling around Molly’s feet. Imogen has such a cute, Southern charm going on throughout the book, but she also keeps the book real and moving. Molly confides in Imogen with her fears and secrets, and I can tell by how Molly views Imogen that she cares for her deeply.

Next is Gabe. When Katie Cotugno uses flashbacks, which I will talk more about later, readers dislike Gabe. Flashback Gabe was viewed as a jerk who stole his brother’s girlfriend. Deep down I knew Gabe was perfect for Molly. Gabe and Molly have a relationship in the beginning of the book, and every time Molly is around Gabe she talks about how right their hugs or hand holding feels. I felt that right along with Molly. Gabe just had this aura around the words describing him that I could imagine the feeling of rightness. Patrick on the other hand, Molly’s ex-boyfriend, felt wrong. Although he does get perks for being a great guy in the flashbacks, he is a jerk in the present time. Patrick appeared to hate Molly when we first meet him in the book, but then he messes with her head. I just cannot appreciate guys who mess with girl’s heads in books. At least he makes Gabe look better.

A concept that I really love in books is flashback mode. Flashbacks allow the readers to grasp a character’s background without the confusion of trying to mix it into the storyline in present times. When authors, like Katie Cotugno, put flashbacks into their writing it is like a little Easter egg popping up in the grass bursting their colors. Katie’s writing style has flashbacks where the reader knows it is a flashback, but she puts a break between the writing and goes right into the flashback. When I came across the first flashback I was confused, but as the book went on it felt so natural. Flashbacks should be a thing.

Katie Cotugno’s book 99 Days definitely lives up to all the hype it is getting on Goodreads and social media. Her debut novel, How To Love, was just the beginning of a Cotugno era, and I will jump on the bandwagon all the way down that lane. Just as readers should April 15, 2015!

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