Book Review: The Do-Over

Bethany Turner’s The Do-Over is a lighthearted romantic comedy brimming with pop culture references.

McKenna Keaton has always known what she’s wanted: a successful career, a life in New York City, and to maintain her high school over-achiever status for life. When she is falsely accused of embezzlement and forced to take a leave of absence, she goes back home in more ways than one. Finding herself in her childhood bedroom with her younger sister clamoring for her attention, McKenna is struggling to keep her career nosedive a secret and also not throttle the moony-eyed sister she’s never had a close relationship with. When her need to escape her family lands her in front of popular documentarian Hank Blume, she’s just as flustered to be in the presence of her favorite filmmaker as she is to learn he is actually her high school academic rival, Henry Blumenthal.

The Do-Over is full of enchanting descriptions of New York as a testament to protagonist McKenna’s lifelong obsession with the city. As she bounces back and forth between New York and North Carolina, we see McKenna switch between her confident career persona and who she was when she lived with her parents. Her shifts in personality demonstrate how easy it is to fall back into old patterns.

One of my favorite components of this novel are the wonderful supporting characters. McKenna’s family and Henry are all well developed, full of humor, and just plain lovable. I had a harder time connecting with McKenna, as her treatment of her family grated on me. I loved seeing her growth as the novel progressed, but some moments in the beginning are particularly hard to swallow.

Though I loved the setting descriptions and supporting cast, I don’t especially feel that this was a good match for me as a reader. However, there are still many positive and wonderful aspects of this book. Just because it wasn’t necessarily a good fit for me doesn’t mean it won’t be for you; reading preferences are as individualistic and subjective as we are! There were clearly many positives in this book, or I wouldn’t have had anything to include in the review. I adored the family and their genealogical studies, the writing flows well, and the supporting characters are likable.

Overall, this lighthearted romance has an emphasis on family. The themes of accepting yourself and others for who they are, and not who you want them to be, is delivered clearly and without judgement. I appreciated the frank conversations between characters on topics like judging women based on their decisions — the classic independent child-free career woman (and the constant barrage of when will you settle down and have a family) AND those who choose the opposite. Turner thoughtfully shows both sides how judging women based on their life choices demeans and devalues all involved.

Thank you to Bethany Turner, Thomas Nelson Fiction, and NetGalley for an advanced digital copy such that I could write this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can order The Do-Over from Amazon here and from Bookshop.org here. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and Amazon. I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.

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