It will challenge you...

Covet - Tracey Garvis Graves
The set up
Claire and Chris had a wonderful marriage until he was laid off from his job. They were financially secure with solid savings but it took Chris a year to find another job and things got tough. Their relationship changed because He turned inward and completely shut Claire out, even sleeping on the couch every night so as to not "disturb" her by coming to bed late. She works from home as a freelance graphic artist and they have two young children. And, they live in a neighborhood where those outward symbols of your standard of living seem to make a difference. 

The issues
While they didn't tank financially, their marriage is now on life support. Both believed that when Chris got a job they'd begin to repair their relationship but the new company required him to be on the road at least four days a week. The distance between them just kept growing into this seemingly insurmountable chasm with no visible sign of a bridge for either of them to cross. To complicate matters, Claire begins a friendship with a very handsome and available police officer who isn't shy about giving her the attention she's craved the last eighteen months. 

What worked about the story
With so many impacted by the economic downturn these past few years, the exploration of the toll taken on relationships was timely and thought provoking. Neither Chris or Claire were positioned as the "bad guy" as both points of view gave rich insights as to their motivations, fears and true feelings. They're both really likable, devoted to their children and committed to somehow figuring out a way to get back to each other. Even Daniel, Claire's new "friend," was a good man and respected the marital boundaries. The author's use of alternating points of view was well placed throughout the book, each chapter indicating whose voice we were hearing. 

Cheating is one of my deal breakers in a story so I was very much afraid to start this story, needing some assurances from many of my friends that I wouldn't end up throwing my iPad across the room. Without spoiling the story, I can safely say my iPad is still intact. 

What was tough for me
I'm on a slippery slope here and may not convey my issues clearly so as to avoid telling too much. While I really, really, really understood Claire's loneliness and feelings of abandonment, I wasn't happy with how she seemed to use Daniel. In the end, there was a situation that made me extremely sympathetic to him. I'm not talking about how close she may or may not have come to the physical boundaries. It was her emotional disconnections that set me adrift. Also, one of her friends clearly had a serious problem and Claire failed to intervene in any way. It caused me to question her sincerity and values. I want a follow up book!!!

The bottom line
This really is a perfect book to read and discuss with friends and/or book groups. I can imagine that there will be proponents of and detractors against each character (Chris, Claire and Daniel) and I'm ripe for a discussion. Thankfully, I'm in a group that selected this as the October book of the month and I cannot wait to get started. Perhaps this alone makes it a real winner of a story, that it can provoke so many opinions about a situation many couples are finding themselves in today. It certainly has me energized. I'm glad I read it. 

(I received an ARC from NetGalley)