Against All Odds is a 2017 novel by Danielle Steel, American writer who started her writing career back in the 70s and have been publishing books ever since. Her writing style is very simple and requires very little effort by the reader to visualize what they are reading. she doesn’t go into very little details neither does she create an environment where you get lost in which is the reason behind why I think Against All Odds is not worthy of reading.
Yes, writing with a simple language is what modern readers ask for but not to the point of not having a point in the novel !
the entire novel goes around a family of five, the mother (Kate Madison) her two sons (willie and Justin) and her two daughters (Isabelle and Julie) and a bunch of side characters which only one of them who is Liam (a college friend of Kate) is important in this review.
so the story goes about how Kate lost her husband at an early age and had to raise the four children by herself and now they all are grown ups and having their own lives and living alone. this is a good starting point but how can you extend such normal life? by creating problems for each character of course and what is better than emotional and relationship-related problems? yes the whole novel is about how every single character in the novel (maybe besides the grandma and her friend) have relationship problems as their main life problem ! Willie is a guy of seduction and goes around from one girl to another, Justin is gay and with his boyfriend and their problems go around having kids and raising them. Isabelle(aka Izzie) is attracted to a criminal client caught with drugs and is addicted to them, yet she falls in love with him and marries him the first chance she gets even though she knows he doesn’t and will never get a job… Julie marries a guy who by Kate’s description is “too good to be true” and it turns out to be true (yes in multiple places the mother turns out to be true) and Kate herself finally and after years of being a widow decides to go out and see people and the first man she chooses turns out to be a french guy who has an “arrangement” with his wife and don’t live together anymore!
what I could get from this book was a couple of points that I will be mentioning below:
- kids will make mistakes even though mothers always tell them which way is the right way but it is of little to no help ! which doesn’t really fit real life events, many times children made better decisions than their parents and saying that mothers are always right is a very bold move!
- the novel tries to show how women can raise their children even without their husband, and as a person who have been raised by a widowed woman I can agree on this point. and the novel shows it in a good way.
- through the character of Grandma Lou the story tries to say that age is just a number when it comes to enjoying life as she is the grandma of the family yet she is the only one enjoying it to the limits.
- life will always be good in the end? this one is a very optimistic point as each kid eventually gets where they were supposed to be in Kate’s eyes which is kinda weird as is this supposed to be saying that if you go where your mom tells you to go you will be happy? if so, then this is even worse than I thought.
- the last and the most irritating point of the novel for me was when Liam tells Kate that if she had not married her late husband, he would have proposed to her later on but when she did, he decided to stick to the friendship they have and get married to another woman who dies during the course of the novel and then five months after her death Liam confesses his old feelings for Kate and telss her he would propose in seven months if she says yes(the way he proposes is even weirder than the entire thing as he is basically saying I’m not asking you to marry me yet, but will you say yes when I actually ask you?) I mean, is it supposed to tell me that friendships between men and women is all but a lie and eventually it will either break down or become a relationship? if so then it is absolutely irritating me as I believe in the existence of cross sex friendships and don’t think it will always become emotional. if not, then what was the point? what did Steel want to tell me by Liam confessing?
the entire novel problem to problem without a rest. I think a family like that wouldn’t survive easily.
another problem I have with the novel is how easily big problems get solved ! Isabelle’s addicted husband dies when she is pregnant and after a while she gives birth to the kid and starts dating life just that easily. Julie’s “perfect” husband is a monster, beats her, threatens to kill her and abuses her, but when she runs away, after a while he just gives up and kills another woman ! when Richard(Justin’s boyfriend) cheats on him with a younger boy and then leaves the house. he gets accepted back into the house by Justin very simply. even when he catches him cheating there is the least argument happening between the two boys ! and Willie simply stops being a player around girls and settles down with a woman older than himself and they all live happily ever after ! If in Steel’s life problems are solved that easily I honestly envy her!
the book has nothing to make me recommend it to anyone. yes if your English language skill is very basic maybe it will be useful as it is very simply written but otherwise there is nothing so attractive about the book.
in conclusion I want to give the book 2/5 stars and that goes for the second and third points mentioned above. otherwise nothing more to go for.