A Heartbreaking Story of Love, Grief, and Forgiveness
Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover ripped my heart out as I wanted it to do. I picked up this book because, one, I loved ‘It Ends With Us’ to pieces and wanted another read like that. And two, Reminders of Him promised a lot of angst from its blurb. It was about a young mother reaching out for her daughter she’s never met, after serving time for a tragic mistake.
It had a premise I thought was impossible to work out, characters who were full of heart, and a poignant style of writing. It was so well told that I couldn’t help rooting for a woman who seemed irredeemable.
So if you want a read that’ll tug at your heartstrings and leave you aching for the characters, follow along as I review Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover.
- Author – Colleen Hoover
- Genre/Sub-genre – Romance, fiction, contemporary, new adult, contemporary romance, adult, chick lit, drama
- Content warnings – Car accident, injury/injury detail, death of a partner, death of a child, grief, abandonment, imprisonment, physical violence
- Type – Standalone
- No. of pages – 320
- Goodreads rating – 4.42
- Spice meter – 🌶️🌶️(a lot of sexual language and some on-page action, may be occurring couple times
Reminders of Him Plot Summary
Five years ago, Kenna Rowan went to prison for involuntary manslaughter of Scotty Landry – her boyfriend and the father of her baby girl born in prison. In a painful twist of events, Scotty’s parents got the legal custody of the baby without letting Kenna have so much as a glance at her daughter.
Now, Kenna is out of prison, and wants nothing but to see her daughter. The problem is, no one in Scotty’s life allows her to come back. Kenna might have a chance with Ledger, who has been in her daughter’s life since she was born, but can Ledger forgive the woman who caused the death of his best friend?
So, like I said, impossible premise. Let’s see how CoHo goes on about it.
Reminders of Him Review
Having been burned by ‘It Ends With Us’ and ‘Ugly Love’, I never open a CoHo book expecting an easy ride. I guessed right, because Reminders of Him is not a happy book. But it’s also not a sad book by any means. It’s poignant, melancholic, and heartbreaking, but at the core of it, it’s a story that tells us about the kind of love that can endure tragedy and choose forgiveness.
Reminders of Him starts with Kenna moving to Scotty’s hometown with barely any means to live. She wants to reach out to her daughter, Diem, because Kenna herself grew up with an absentee mother. My heart broke for her when she said:
“I know from experience that if you’re going to grow up with an imperfect mother, it’s better to grow up knowing your imperfect mother is fighting for you than to grow up knowing she doesn’t give a shit about you.” – Kenna, Chapter 15
The determination that comes from her own past and her fierce love for her daughter is so admirable, because for her, nothing seems to come easily. She is rejected at so many jobs because she’s an ex-con, her place is just short of a dump because she can’t afford anything better, and she’s afraid to reach out to anyone for the fear that she’ll be shut out.
Her fears are confirmed by Ledger. There’s that immediate spark of attraction when they first see each other (I’m not an insta-love fan, but their attraction served up a lot of angst), but once Ledger finds out who she is, he’s torn between his loyalty to Scotty’s parents who lost their son and his growing affection for Kenna. The chaos of emotions he goes through is too real:
“In a matter of a few weeks, I went from hating you to liking you to wanting the world for you, so forgive me if those feelings sometimes overlap.” – Ledger, Chapter 31
His heart is big though – he loves Diem too much to keep her away from her mother, and he respects Scotty’s memory too much to keep hating the woman he loved.
I get it, too; Kenna is too good of a person to keep hating (even though I constantly kept asking her ‘Why did you walk away from the accident?!’) because she treats people with so much generosity despite the pain she carries. She’s kind to the kitten she didn’t want and to the teenager who wants to talk to Kenna when all she needs is to be left alone. She’s even kind to Scotty’s parents, who get a restraining order against her for wanting to see Diem.
I can’t hold anything against the parents either; it becomes painfully clear how Diem’s presence in their lives is the only thing holding them together after their beloved son’s death. How can they open their life to the one person who shattered it?
This was literally the thought I had in my mind as I raced through the chapters, fully convinced that this is not going to end well. But something Ledger’s mom said made me hopeful:
“I think there’s room in a tragedy this size for everyone to be both right and wrong.” – Robin, Chapter 35
In the end, we come to realize that love in any of its forms (like letters written to the only person who would believe in you) can work miracles – which I won’t elaborate on because I’ll end up spoiling it. But I’ll just say it’s worth the wait across thirty-something chapters.
I knew getting through this book was tough from the get go, but what I loved was how Colleen Hoover managed to bring lightheartedness to this poignant story with Diem’s adorable antics, Kenna and Ledger’s banter, and with Scotty’s ‘Is that a f*cking pigeon?’ (IYKYK)
I loved how the book was structured. There were alternating chapters from Kenna’s and Ledger’s points of view and they gave us the chance to see the emotional turmoil the two characters were going through. The ultimate chef’s kiss for me were the letters Kenna wrote to Scotty – the letters she has been writing for so many years. Not only did they flesh out Scotty for us, they also revealed the heartbreaking truths that Kenna has been keeping to herself. So when I say the letters were painfully sweet, I’m not being contrary, I’m being honest.
This book would have been a 5-star if it weren’t for a couple of things that grated on me. One, the ending was too abrupt for my taste. I expected (no, needed) some drama and angst after five whole years of pain and built-up resentment. But to my disappointment, everything was resolved overnight, too quickly and too neatly to be believable. That doesn’t erase how beautifully the ending comes about – I won’t elaborate in case I end up spoiling, but it’s worth a few tears and then some.
Second thing is Diem’s name. I get that Diem is supposed to be a meaningful name. Kenna named her daughter after ‘Carpe Diem’ meaning ‘Seize the day’ and I truly get the sentiment. But you can’t call a toddler ‘day’, Ms. Hoover!
But honestly, despite the ending which was a little more abrupt than I’d like and questionable naming, Reminders of Him remains one of the most emotionally rich books I’ve read this year. It’s a testament to how powerful it is that this book has dethroned It Ends With Us as my favorite Colleen Hoover.
Who should read Reminders of Him
No one should miss this book IMHO. But to be specific, if you like stories about second chances, forgiveness, and redeeming love, Reminders of Him is a great pick for you. Bear in mind though that this book speaks about grief and trauma extensively, so if they are sensitive topics, please be gentle with yourself.
Reminders of Him is a book that will stay in my heart for a long time for its heart wrenching story and the grace with which that story has been told. It reminds us that even in impossible situations, forgiveness is possible if there’s an abundance of love.
If it sounds like something you will enjoy, run – don’t walk – and add this book to your TBR.
Yes! It’s a book about love, grief, and second chances with a dash of spice thrown in, so if that sounds like a good combo for you, you should give it a try.
Yes! Reminders of Him has a few spicy scenes across the book.
Reminders of Him is appropriate for 18+ audiences. This is because it deals with mature themes like parental grief, abandonment, and an ex-convict rebuilding life. It also includes sexual content and scenes with physical violence.
Most likely. Reminders of Him is a heart-touching story of love, grief, and forgiveness, so you might shed a tear or too. I know I did!
The best line(s) for me in Reminders of Him are when Ledger says: “In a matter of a few weeks, I went from hating you to liking you to wanting the world for you, so forgive me if those feelings sometimes overlap” and when Ledger’s mom says: “I think there’s room in a tragedy this size for everyone to be both right and wrong.”
Yes, there’s a love story in Reminders of Him.
Reminders of Him revolves around grief and forgiveness, and I think the main message of the book is that everyone deserves understanding and empathy no matter what wrongs have been committed in their past.