Anything For You
Kristan Higgins has been one of my favorite contemporary authors for quite a while now. I’ve enjoyed most of the books in her Blue Heron series—as someone who hails from a small town in the northeast, the setting feels very familiar. This latest book was, for me, one of the best in the series. In my prior encounters with its heroine I hadn’t really liked her, but upon reading this book I did a 180 and must say that Jessica is one of the best things about Anything for You.
Jessica Dunn has had a pretty rough life. Her parents were alcoholics and growing up she was the main caretaker of their house and her younger brother. Unfortunately, as a consequence of her mother’s drinking, Davey (her younger brother) has fetal alcohol syndrome. Jessica has been the one seeing to his needs for his life, and while she loves him and wouldn’t have it any other way, it definitely puts a damper on any chances of her having a life of her own.
Connor O’Rourke is one of the people who struggles most keenly with this issue. He loved Jess from afar for a number of years, then started up a sort of on-again-off-again acquaintances-with-benefits thing with her. By the time Anything for You begins, Connor and Jessica have been in some sort of a relationship for a while, know each other very well, and are essentially in love, although they’ve never said as much. Unfortunately, although Connor is ready to marry Jess—and, in fact, proposes to her at the start of the book—she is nowhere near ready to marry him. There are two main reasons for that: Davey, who hates Connor with a passion, and Jess’ own insecurities.
I went into this book a bit uncertain about its characters. I’d liked Connor as a secondary character in his sister’s book, but really wasn’t sure about Jessica. She’d always seemed so dissatisfied with her life in the past—I wasn’t sure that she could shape up to be an enjoyable, relatable heroine. Here, though, I was amazed to find myself admiring her. Jess grew up quite poor and has clawed her way up to a decent paycheck and job at the Blue Heron vineyard. More impressively, she’s done a remarkable job of caring for her brother, and has never resented him for all of the limitations he places on her life. Her own insecurities about the reputation she gained in high school are understandable, and it was good to see her working through them over the course of the book.
Connor, meanwhile, had his own issues to work through pertaining to Davey. It was honestly ridiculous of him to propose to Jessica at the beginning without having worked past the fact that her brother hated him. I really felt that, having dated Jess for so long, he ought to have known a bit more about her life with her Davey. It all worked out in the end, but there were a couple times I felt Connor made mistakes in dealing with Davey behind Jess’ back.
Overall, though, I really loved Anything for You. Jessica is now one of my favorite characters from the Blue Heron series, and I liked seeing her and Connor get together. Yes, there were some mistakes made by each party, and a reader better versed in the realities of caring for someone with fetal alcohol syndrome might have more to say about how realistic or not the book was. It seemed well done to me, and was certainly well written, so I’d definitely recommend Anything for You to anyone who’s enjoyed Kristan Higgins before.