I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
Not Quite Dead surprised me in many ways, all of them good. I connected with Graciela, Gracie, right away - she's snarky, spirited, and a loving, devoted granddaughter. She's come back to Heron Creek to take care of her grandpa, who isn't doing well health wise, and while she's nursing a broken heart with alcohol every night, I really didn't think she was over indulgent in her self pity. She handled her fiance cheating on her better than I would have handled it.
Thinking she will get a reprieve from heartbreak and totally awkward situations for a while, Gracie couldn't be more wrong. Barely back for twenty-four hours, she comes face to face with her first love who married her childhood best friend. Yikes! I was relieved, actually, that this wasn't going to be a story where a girl runs from her cheating fiance and finds the perfect place to let her broken heal perfectly. Not Quite Dead is realistic, which I appreciated - Gracie has a lot of history in Heron Creek, and because of that, there are unpleasant situations she must deal with here, too.
The close relationship Gracie has with her grandpa warmed my heart and also brought tears with all of the little signs letting her know just how bad off he really is. I forgot several times that she only spent her summers in Heron Creek - with the love in her voice coming through loud and clear while reminiscing about spending time with her grandparents and going swimming with friends, I could tell how close her ties are to the town.
The young and handsome mayor had me laughing out loud with his banter with Gracie. He added humor which was a nice balance with the more serious topics addressed in this story, topics like cheating, depression, alcohol use, and domestic violence. There's a touch of romance, too, and I appreciated it wasn't the focus of the story but was happy it was there.
The mystery of whether Gracie is really seeing a ghost or if someone is trying to scare her away kept me glued to my Kindle. This book seemed so real it felt like everything in it could really happen. The voices of the characters, the way Payne paints scenes in her story, and the ease with which she draws you into the world she's created all lend the feeling of realness to Not Quite Dead. This was a great story to get lost in, and I'm looking forward to seeing where things go from here.