And Then There Was Me is a beautifully written novel about friendship, marriage, secrets, and betrayal. The protagonist of the story is Beatrice (Bea) Colon. Married with two children, Bea is pregnant for the third time as a surrogate for her husband’s cousin. And she’s pretty sure her husband, Lonnie, is cheating on her again. Needing support, Bea relies on lifelong friend, Awilda, who has troubles in her own marriage due to her husband’s illness. No one knows Bea is hiding a secret of her own—she’s bulimic, and she fights a daily battle not to binge and purge. A terrible betrayal shatters her world, and Bea must find a way to piece her life back together again… and decide who will be in it.
I’ve had this ARC for a while, and I regret not reading it sooner. It’s such a good book! Before I got halfway through the first chapter, I was firmly stuck in Bea’s corner. My heart went out to her as I read about her insecurities, doubts about her husband’s fidelity, and the discomfort she feels living in the upper class, non-diverse neighborhood that Lonnie insisted upon.
As much as I was wrapped up in Bea’s present-day life, I found the flashbacks to her childhood even more interesting. It showed me why her friendship with Awilda was so important to her, as well as giving insight into how food became such an important (and distorted) part of her life. It also gave insight into why Bea forgave (or tolerated?) her husband’s cheating so many times throughout their marriage.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending. Not because it was bad, but because I didn’t want it to end! I thought there was a bit more left, and when I realized I’d reached the end, I whined out a pathetic noooooo and kept stabbing my finger at my Kindle, as if that would cause another chapter to magically appear. Sigh. If only…
Overall, this was a great story with vividly written characters you either loved or hated… and maybe felt a bit conflicted about, as well. I thought the scenes regarding Bea’s struggle with bulimia were thoughtfully written; the anguish Bea felt each time she couldn’t find the need to binge and purge was palpable, and painful to read. Kudos to Ms. Johnson having handled such a delicate subject with sensitivity and empathy.
This is the first book I’ve read of Johnson’s, but I doubt it will be the last. I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy reading women’s fiction. This is a story you don’t want to miss!
Author: Sadeqa Johnson
Title: And Then There Was Me
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published: April 11th, 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books
About the Book
Bea and Awilda have been best friends from the moment Awilda threw her fourteen year-old self across Bea’s twin-sized bed as if they had known each other forever. Bubbly, adventurous Awilda taught sheltered, shy Bea how to dress, wear her hair and what to do with boys. She even introduced Bea to her husband, Lonnie, in college, who pledged to take good care of her for the rest of their lives. But philanderer Lonnie breaks that promise over and over again, leaving Bea to wrestle with her self-esteem and long time secret addiction.
Recently Lonnie has plopped the family in a New Jersey upper class suburb, which lacks the diversity that Bea craves but has the school district and zip code envy that Lonnie wants. The demands of carrying a third child and fitting into this new environment while pretending that her husband is not cheating on her again, is more than she can handle. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worst, the ultimate deception snaps the little thread that was holding her life together and all comes tumbling down.
And Then There Was Me is the story of secrets, lies and friendship, heartache and betrayal. It’s the journey of a woman stripped down to her lowest point and needing to find the will to press on.
About the Author
Author photo and bio via Goodreads.