Book Review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

In How to Walk Away, Margaret begins the story with her life in fantastic order.

She has a promising career lined up, she’s young and vibrant, and her boyfriend is about to propose. But then she’s paralyzed by a plane accident and loses everything.

She must struggle against her physical condition and depression to find a new life for herself. It’s a completely different direction than she had planned out. While she tries to stay positive, the adjustment takes time and lots of frustration. Perhaps a handsome yet gruff physical therapist with a history and hangups of his own can help her heal and move forward.

(Possible mild spoiler)
Chip, her fiancé, is one-dimensional and almost comically bad. Life-changing events like this bring out varying shades in people. It’s normal to struggle with feelings of guilt and doubt. This took it to an extreme, making him almost a caricature of a person.

For Margaret to be so devoted to Chip in the first place shows that he has at least some good character traits. Those traits all disappear after the accident, leaving a whiny, selfish villain in their place.

Realistically speaking, the situation would probably be a lot more complicated for everyone involved.

Protagonists and antagonists aren’t always on such opposite ends. Good people have faults. Bad people may not be bad people at all; just struggling people who make bad decisions in a stressful moment.

The other people in How to Walk Away fare much better, all of them with needs and dramas and faults and wonderful quirks of their own. Margaret’s parents with a stalled marriage, her wayward sister, her prickly physical therapist, and her own frustration with her uncooperative legs make for a vibrant cast of characters.

It’s a compelling story; one that’s hard to walk away from.

(Get it? Walk away? Ba-dum-dum)


How to Walk Away
Katherine Center
Published May 2018
St. Martin’s Press