Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
“No country for old shit boots.”
Orphaned Delilah Green had no desire to return to Bright Falls, Oregon, and her stepfamily. Nope, not ever. Her career as a photographer was finally taking off, and her life was in NYC. Until her sister Astrid calls and reminds her of her upcoming wedding, and that Delilah’s stepmom was going to pay Delilah to take the wedding photos. Unable to resist (life as a New York photographer doesn’t quite pay the bills), Delilah heads back to Oregon…and stumbles into one of Astrid’s childhood best friends, Claire. Sparks fly, but history runs deep and Delilah isn’t planning on staying…
Delilah made her eyes dramatically wide. “This is you flirting?”
“Oh god,” Claire said, dropping her head into her hands.
“I’m kidding,” Delilah said, taking a sip of her bourbon. “I know exactly what’s going on here. You’re trying to recruit me for a cult. I get it.”
Claire lifted her head and laughed, eyes sparkling behind her glasses. “You got me. I’ve got the Prophet out back ready to shave your head and brand a unicorn on your ass.”
Ugh I loved this book.
This was a book where I was hooked and in love by the first sentence. That rarely happens, and when it does, I know that I’m about to experience something truly special.
So many elements of this book hit me hard (weird that I’m going down memory lane this week, what with this review and Monday’s review of Forward March), but it was so good. Life as an awkward teenager in a small town, where your sibling is super popular and perfect and extroverted, where your parent doesn’t really care about you but uses you as a prop for her own narcissism. I got both ends of the stick growing up, although I related more to Astor in being constantly pushed to be perfect and the best or whatever, and then as Delilah in that I left as soon as I could, sacrificing all previous relationships to everyone to go.
Anywho, that’s me and not the book. But this book was so damn relatable, particularly since it took place in small town Oregon (granted, close to Portland, but fucking what book isn’t set in the northern part of the state??).
Delilah spent the entire drive back to Bright Falls with a sapphic fantasy audiobook blasting in her ears.
So to the book.
Plotwise, lots of backstory and drama with semi-enemies to lovers in Delilah and Claire.
Delilah is the pseudo-goth girl who left for the big(gest) city and found a passion in art. Claire is the small town girl who stayed, got pregnant with her high school sweetheart, and made a life in town after her ex left her and her kid. The two are connected by Delilah’s stepsister and Claire’s best friend Astrid, who is getting married to the perfect guy on paper (yet who gives Claire and Astrid’s other best friend the skeevy-geevies).
So, in addition to the main plot of Astrid and Claire falling in love there is also a subplot to stop the wedding and it is glorious. There is a Parent Trap-type plot, and yes, it’s the Lindsay Lohan version and yes the movie is referenced and yes it’s just as fantastic as you’d expect. My inner child was dying with happiness.
And there is a really lovely reconciliation of the past and the present. Delilah finds that life in Bright Falls was objectively terrible but not quite as horrific as she remembered—she was too clouded in grief and self-isolation and depression to see anyone else’s struggles (totally fair). There is a slight bullying aspect with Claire, Iris and Astrid and their teen years with Delilah, but this is resolved fairly quickly and much better than I was anticipating.
She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to all this. Did he want a medal for performing basic parenting duties and pressing a button on the stove?
Adding to this element was Claire’s storyline, of her relationship with baby daddy and not-total-dickhead Josh. Their relationship had so much history and chemistry and a heaping backstory of toxic patterns and bad decisions, and their inability to let it go and Claire’s simmering (rightfully so) anger at Josh’s constant disappearing acts and how it affected their daughter. Claire is done romantically with Josh, and while she acknowledges that he’s not a bad person and is the father of their amazing kid, she is annoyed and just wants him to either stay gone or keep his promises to remain in Ruby’s life (but not in hers).
Delilah’s backstory is more of a player, a person bound and determined not to get attached or let anyone in lest she get hurt again.
Watching Claire work through her own realizations with Josh, and even Josh’s own storyline, was a lot of emotion and weight and growth, ultimately. And Delilah’s own reconciliation with her past and how those actions affected her present and future.
Delilah knew better than anyone how much the art you did as a kid—whether it be drawings or photographs or songs—felt like spilling the contents of your heart out into the world. Hell, it still felt like that as a grown-up.
There is a lot of history.
Which works, although I had hoped for more of a confrontation/resolution with the stepmom, because that was the major source of the angst in the storyline…particularly since this book had a heavy theme of reconciliation (not necessarily forgiveness).
However, I anticipate that will occur in the second book, which features Astrid, who was a character I was primed and ready to absolutely abhor and hate (and actually didn’t like through most of the book), but it’s a true sign of good storytelling that my dislike was changed into something akin to sympathy and like and then downright I need her book now anticipation by the end.
Also, there are a lot of queer characters here. Delilah is a lesbian, Claire is bi, as is Iris, and Astrid is, Astrid.
I could keep going on and on and on, but I’ll stop here, because I cannot wait for book 2!
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care releases from Berkley February 22, 2022.