Perfect for fans of Katherine Center and Kristan Higgins, All the Lost Pieces is a funny, warmhearted novel that explores the dynamics of family, friendship and falling in love, and all the ways we try to save ourselves.
Twenty-nine-year-old Nina Abrahams is not in a good place. She’s been fired from her restaurant manager job after she stands up to her bully of a boss, her motivational speaker mother is helping other people get their lives on track and ignoring the derailing of her daughter’s, and her best friend, Lucas Wilson, the guy she’s loved since she was eighteen, can’t seem to look beyond the girl in braces to the woman she is now.
When a new opportunity comes up, Nina decides it’s the perfect time to start over. The restaurant needs a reinvention and so does she. Unfortunately for Nina, the restaurant comes with hostile servers, a belligerent chef, and an owner averse to change.
But if Nina’s brave enough to take on the restaurant and tackle the people out to sabotage her, perhaps she can find the courage to tell Lucas how she really feels, even if it means risking the most important relationship in her life.
If you liked Evvie Drake Starts Over and The Lost Husband, then you’ll love this feel-good romantic novel.
Never have I read a book so sweet, wholesome, and innocent as All the Lost Pieces. The definition of a clean romance, this is probably the most G-rated book I have ever encountered that wasn’t YA. She even uses replacement words for profanity or cuts off the known sentiment just in time. I mention this because it goes to show that you can still create an intriguing, engaging, and highly enticing romance without that the “bang and sizzle” (although one comment in the book does come rather close!)
On the surface, Nina Abrahams’s life seems simple: work as a Restaurant Manager, appease the customers, and help the restaurant reach its full potential. While the dream of owning her own restaurant one day is never far from her mind, Nina is happy with the job she always longed to possess. The problem is, Nina has a tendency to fight (and lose) battles at work when trying to keep fairness and justice for those she manages. After receiving a “time to grow up” reprimand from her best friend Lucas after being fired (again), Nina is determined to prove herself in more ways than one. Avoiding criticism from her mother and overprotection from her brother, Nina sets out to land the perfect job that will finally earn the respect of her family. While solving the career problem seems attainable, Nina is still left with a dilemma that has been plaguing her for 11 years, her feelings for Lucas. Using an upcoming event to make him see her as the woman she is once and for all, Nina finds herself confirming her greatest fear, Lucas has never seen here as anything more than a friend and never will. With that final hope of light snuffed out, Nina decides it’s time to finally move on. As fate would have it, an opportunity presents itself that would allow Nina to do just that – putting distance between her bad decisions, crushed dreams, and broken heart.
What I liked about it: Nina is my kind of people and her relationship with her brother Ryan is one to be admired. I also loved the friendships she built with Lucas and Olivia. Their drink challenges and ribbing on each other were some of the best moments. Her inner monologue though was the icing on the cake, especially when she interacted with her mother. The ring tone she set for her mother Cheryl was hysterical. While there were too many side splitting moments to count, the party at Lucas’s house is the winner in my book. It wasn’t so much about one unforgettable incident, it was all of them together and just the laughter that ensued – especially when a protective big brother is unleashed.
In addition to the laughter, there were so many emotional stories to follow but Lara does a wonderful job making them easy to manage as they correlate with one another: Nina’s potentially toxic relationship with Tammy and the bond that solidified that friendship, Nina’s unrequited love for Lucas and the trial and tribulations of being in love with your best friend who only sees you as the girl he grew up with, her lackluster career that grows continuous scrutiny from her mother, overcoming the challenges when starting a new job, and finally her dating history – kinda hard to find the one when you can’t move on, try as you might.
What I loved about it: I honestly should say “What I loved and found frustrating (in a good way) about it” as I found myself becoming more and more vested in Nina. For that reason, I became just as protective as Ryan and found some of the things she did to be incredibly frustrating because I cared. Let me explain: I get the idea of being trusting and seeing the good in people but there is a thin line between being trustworthy and being naïve. I understand the saying fool me once shame on you (i.e. Steve Morton), for me twice shame on me (i.e Camille); but, there comes a point where lessons should have been learned and some kind of intuition should have developed. A third time should not be happening (i.e. Tammy). The worst part is we watch the people around her who had better instincts try to warn her but she never listened, possessing a stubbornness of her own blindspots. I constantly found myself shaking my head in frustration, especially when she put what she wanted most on the line.
What it took for Nina to finally take off the blinders hurt my heart. Once she saw the repercussions of her decisions, it was inspiring to witness her transformation. She stepped into her own and started becoming the woman she aspired to be, moving forward from where she was always stuck in her past, beyond the limitations she had set for herself, breaking away from toxic relationships, and buckling down instead of trying to escape.
As always, I try to do my due diligence when I come across content that may be triggering. While Lara does not go into depth on most of these topics, she does touch upon sexual harassment, child molestation, attempted date rape, loss of a parent, grief, Alzheimer’s, and drug use/abuse.
If you are looking for a feel good romantic comedy that makes to believe in love, friendship, and family, All the Lost Pieces is a must read. Lara has definitely found a fan in me and I can’t wait to read her next book!