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This portrait of marriage explores the long union of a middle-aged couple as they grapple with secrets, illness, and loyalty. Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone expected them to marry immediately but an explosive incident tore them apart before graduation. It took years for the two to heal and finally come back together. Now, decades later, they face an This portrait of marriage explores the long union of a middle-aged couple as they grapple with secrets, illness, and loyalty. Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone expected them to marry immediately but an explosive incident tore them apart before graduation. It took years for the two to heal and finally come back together. Now, decades later, they face an uncertain future with their only child out on her own and alarming news about Jackie’s health. Determined to stay positive, the two travel to their Cape hometown for a book signing of Pete’s debut novel. But when a disastrous encounter in the bookstore with an old classmate brings their long relationship to the breaking point, they are forced to examine their marriage and explore their deepest feelings.


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This portrait of marriage explores the long union of a middle-aged couple as they grapple with secrets, illness, and loyalty. Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone expected them to marry immediately but an explosive incident tore them apart before graduation. It took years for the two to heal and finally come back together. Now, decades later, they face an This portrait of marriage explores the long union of a middle-aged couple as they grapple with secrets, illness, and loyalty. Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone expected them to marry immediately but an explosive incident tore them apart before graduation. It took years for the two to heal and finally come back together. Now, decades later, they face an uncertain future with their only child out on her own and alarming news about Jackie’s health. Determined to stay positive, the two travel to their Cape hometown for a book signing of Pete’s debut novel. But when a disastrous encounter in the bookstore with an old classmate brings their long relationship to the breaking point, they are forced to examine their marriage and explore their deepest feelings.

30 review for The Sweetest Days

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robert Dugoni

    Loved everything about this book

  2. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    John Hough Jr. comes from generations of journalists, his spare style echoing that fine métier. He draws us quietly, assuredly, into the troubled intimacy of a long wed couple, Pete and Jackie. Thrown by her cancer diagnosis, they’re also shaken when a past high school mate shows up at Pete’s debut book signing. The author deftly reveals the poignant impact, as they struggle with secrets, raw feelings, disease, and an empty nest — a once happy marriage challenged now to its core. It feels as if John Hough Jr. comes from generations of journalists, his spare style echoing that fine métier. He draws us quietly, assuredly, into the troubled intimacy of a long wed couple, Pete and Jackie. Thrown by her cancer diagnosis, they’re also shaken when a past high school mate shows up at Pete’s debut book signing. The author deftly reveals the poignant impact, as they struggle with secrets, raw feelings, disease, and an empty nest — a once happy marriage challenged now to its core. It feels as if the two are our best couple friends, and we agonize as they decide, “Will we stay together?” Elegant and heartrending, THE SWEETEST DAYS will keep you rapt ‘til the end. 5 of 5 Stars Pub Date 22 Jun 2021 #TheSweetestDays #NetGalley Thanks to the author, Gallery Books, and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Thacker

    This story fell flat for me and I could not connect with any of the characters. I wanted to like it but at 35% I got bored. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this early release in exchange for my review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Leone-campbell

    This tear-jerker novel tells the story of two high school sweethearts during a volatile time in our history. Peter and Jackie meet and fall in love in a small town. But a tragic accident occurs and their lives are torn apart. Peter must grapple with guilt and Jackie struggles to understand what happened and what part she may have played in the tragedy. Later, Peter and Jackie meet again and decide to marry. It just seems like that’s what they should do. They have a daughter. And just as they are This tear-jerker novel tells the story of two high school sweethearts during a volatile time in our history. Peter and Jackie meet and fall in love in a small town. But a tragic accident occurs and their lives are torn apart. Peter must grapple with guilt and Jackie struggles to understand what happened and what part she may have played in the tragedy. Later, Peter and Jackie meet again and decide to marry. It just seems like that’s what they should do. They have a daughter. And just as they are heading into their twilight years, Jackie is given very bad news about her health. As Peter and Jackie try to understand what this means to their marriage and their lives, it also brings up never answered questions from their previous life together. Peter, a former political speech writer has just written a novel and he and Jackie have returned to their hometown for a book signing. Jackie’s father, who is in the throws of dementia, still lives there. As Jackie begins the difficult task of telling her family about her illness, Peter can’t help think about what they endured to get to where they are now and if their marriage should ever have occurred. Unbeknownst to him, Jackie too has her reservations about their life. But during the book signing there is a disruption. Peter and Jackie must begin to analyze their lives together and separately, including all the inadequacies they feel, especially on Jackie’s part. In order to do this they must revisit those painful memories from their youth which molded them to become the adults they are now. Although difficult, they must begin the process of being totally honest with each other and forgive and let go of the anger, disappointment and what-ifs from their past relationship. They must put the past truly behind them in order to become strong for what may lay ahead. And although their future is unknown, by putting all their questions about the past to rest they begin to rekindle or perhaps reshape the love and find that perhaps these are their sweetest days. This beautifully written love story flows effortlessly as if you are watching a captivating movie unfold in your mind, even though you may know how it ends, you can appreciate the sweetness of the days it took you to get there. Thank you #NetGalley #GalleryBooks #TheSweetestDays #JohnHoughJr for the advanced copy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ilyssa Wesche

    The Richard Russo comparison was spot-on. I liked the story and I thought I would love it, because it is definitely my kind of book, but I could not connect with one single character. The women especially seemed one-note and quite frankly, Pete was kind of a dick. I was glad that Jackie & Peter reconciled (although even that scene seemed forced. I refuse to believe the conversation between the two couples would have played out as it did.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Spreen

    Pete and Jackie are around age seventy when this story begins. Pete has just published his first novel and they’re about to attend his reading at a bookstore. While he’s looking ahead, Jackie has just had a bad cancer diagnosis. We get a snapshot of their present-day life before an incident at the reading flings us back to their youth together, and this is where half the story occurs before returning to the present. In the flashback, we see them dating in high school, destined for marriage until Pete and Jackie are around age seventy when this story begins. Pete has just published his first novel and they’re about to attend his reading at a bookstore. While he’s looking ahead, Jackie has just had a bad cancer diagnosis. We get a snapshot of their present-day life before an incident at the reading flings us back to their youth together, and this is where half the story occurs before returning to the present. In the flashback, we see them dating in high school, destined for marriage until one tragic night in which Pete considers taking a different course. Eventually, he goes back to Jackie, a woman who doesn’t share his intellectual or literary gifts, but is beautiful and smart and sturdy. The last part of the story is where they reckon with having spent their lives with the wrong person. It’s an interesting premise. The writing is beautiful, with rich description and metaphor (e.g. Pete’s lifelong interest in the doomed General Custer.) Although there were some problems with the story (most of the women played the same wry, domineering role; most of the characters’ dialogue followed the same terse pattern), it was an interesting depiction of the way we can fall into an important decision and spend our whole life dealing with the results. Many thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to preview this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine (geraldinereads)

    Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts, but little does Jackie know that Pete has been keeping a secret for their entire marriage. When Jackie is diagnosed with cancer, it's finally time for the Pete's secret to come out. I thought this one was very slow in the beginning, and it took me a long time to get into it. I think I was about halfway through when it finally picked up! The writing was good, but it took me a bit to get a hang of the writing style. I also felt like there were some part Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts, but little does Jackie know that Pete has been keeping a secret for their entire marriage. When Jackie is diagnosed with cancer, it's finally time for the Pete's secret to come out. I thought this one was very slow in the beginning, and it took me a long time to get into it. I think I was about halfway through when it finally picked up! The writing was good, but it took me a bit to get a hang of the writing style. I also felt like there were some parts of the story that could have been taken out to make the story flow better. I really enjoyed the second half of the book, so I will definitely check out John Hough's next book release! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-arc!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    3 1/2 stars So, The Sweetest Days was a tough one for me to review. I believe Mr. Hough is a talented writer, so the writing itself was well done. However, I had a difficult time with the characters. Peter, in particular, was difficult to connect with or even like at all throughout the majority of the story. In my opinion, if your protagonist and the primary narrator of your story is unlikable, it's going to be a tough road. I would have been fine with him not being a perfect character. Few peopl 3 1/2 stars So, The Sweetest Days was a tough one for me to review. I believe Mr. Hough is a talented writer, so the writing itself was well done. However, I had a difficult time with the characters. Peter, in particular, was difficult to connect with or even like at all throughout the majority of the story. In my opinion, if your protagonist and the primary narrator of your story is unlikable, it's going to be a tough road. I would have been fine with him not being a perfect character. Few people in real life are perfect....I just needed a few things to like about him. Pretty much the only thing I could give him credit for was that he was a good father. I was never sold that he was a good husband. Yes, he made a conscious choice to "choose" his marriage at several points during his life. Unfortunately, it never felt like he was "all in." Jackie, Peter's wife, took a bit for me to connect with as well. We are introduced to her after she's received a cancer diagnosis after their thirty plus years of marriage. It's evident that there are things in their marriage that have broken her down. She doesn't seem to trust Peter or his level of commitment. All of this initially makes her sound like a bitter, unhappy woman. However, as the story unfolds and we get glimpses of their past, things fall into place and the reader gets a better understanding of how their history has influenced the state of their marriage. You also understand that the impact of her diagnosis is driving a great deal of her unhappiness as well. I believe I saw glimpses of what the author was trying to do with this story. Unfortunately, I just couldn't embrace Peter's character enough to connect to it. Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. I voluntarily chose to review this book and the opinions contained within are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I have mixed feelings about this book. There were parts that I really enjoyed and I appreciate the messages about a long marriage and the choice to love. The flashback story of Jackie and Pete was to me the most interesting part of the book and I wanted to know more about their work in civil rights. The present day story was less compelling and maybe my challenge was that I didn't really like either of them very much. Still the message about choosing to love and how you build a life together was I have mixed feelings about this book. There were parts that I really enjoyed and I appreciate the messages about a long marriage and the choice to love. The flashback story of Jackie and Pete was to me the most interesting part of the book and I wanted to know more about their work in civil rights. The present day story was less compelling and maybe my challenge was that I didn't really like either of them very much. Still the message about choosing to love and how you build a life together was strong for me. I'm glad I read it and finished it. All in all a mixed bag. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    100 Pages per Hour

    I would considering this a reflective book on a marriage in crisis. It was interesting to read both the present day parts and the parts from their past. Their lives were a little complicated and their love story wasn't traditional in any way. This book deals with some pretty heavy triggers and will quite possibly cause tears at least once. I didn't love any of the characters per day, but the story was well written and has a lot of value in the meaning of love and how important choices are in relat I would considering this a reflective book on a marriage in crisis. It was interesting to read both the present day parts and the parts from their past. Their lives were a little complicated and their love story wasn't traditional in any way. This book deals with some pretty heavy triggers and will quite possibly cause tears at least once. I didn't love any of the characters per day, but the story was well written and has a lot of value in the meaning of love and how important choices are in relationships. A very reflective book worth the read but not an easy read. I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley. This is my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Won this in a goodreads giveaway. I had a lot of trouble getting into this book. It’s not bad, just not the type of book I like to read

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lori Sinsel Harris

    This is a very touching real story. The story of Pete and Jackie is a true love story. It has all the messy elements of real life in it. While I can not say that I really liked the characters a whole bunch, their story was true to life. The couple had been together for years, already in their 70s when the book begins, this is a story of how one decision, made impulsively over 30 years ago, can still have lingering effects so long afterward. The story begins with Pete and Jackie returning to the This is a very touching real story. The story of Pete and Jackie is a true love story. It has all the messy elements of real life in it. While I can not say that I really liked the characters a whole bunch, their story was true to life. The couple had been together for years, already in their 70s when the book begins, this is a story of how one decision, made impulsively over 30 years ago, can still have lingering effects so long afterward. The story begins with Pete and Jackie returning to their hometown for a book signing of Pete's first novel. After an encounter with an old classmate, memories are brought to the surface of a fatal decision that even now, after all the time past, has the power to destroy their relationship. I enjoyed this novel, it is real and raw, written in a forthright manner, it holds nothing back, making the reader experience the pain and anger that the characters are feeling. I did not particularly like Jackie or Pete for that matter. I do not think I would want to be friends with either of them, but their story hit home for me. I was married to my high-school sweetheart for over 30 years, and when he passed away a few years ago I was devastated, so I can relate to how this couple feels. This story made me think about my relationship and about decisions made in the past and made me look at some of those decisions and I saw now how they do have a lasting effect on the future. This is a really well written story and I like the fact that the central characters were an older couple, rather than someone in their 20s or 30s, it made the story that much more believable. John Hough Jr.'s style of writing fits the story to a tee. I give 5 stars, and recommend it to all readers, but with a warning, have a couple of tissues ready, because it did make me cry. Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways and the publishers at Gallery Books for the free advanced reader copy of this book. In return I am giving my honest review. #TheSweetestDays #JohnHoughJr #GalleryBooks

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Brenner

    I loved this book. I knew it would be good, and that it would be "New England," and probably a little sad, and yet it still took me by surprise. I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but his dialogue is spot on; he really captures how people talk. I finished it yesterday afternoon and I cried. And I couldn’t bring myself to read, or watch anything for the rest of the day. I loved this book. I knew it would be good, and that it would be "New England," and probably a little sad, and yet it still took me by surprise. I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but his dialogue is spot on; he really captures how people talk. I finished it yesterday afternoon and I cried. And I couldn’t bring myself to read, or watch anything for the rest of the day.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karen Axnick

    I’m a bit ambivalent about this book. It did not live up to the prepublication promotional material and was more disappointing than entertaining. Jackie and Peter Hatch have past the thirty year mark of their complicated marriage. At the beginning of the story, Peter has just published his first political suspense novel after a distinguished career as a journalist and speech writer for a U.S. Senator. This new beginning is juxtaposed with the news that Jackie has just been diagnosed with cancer a I’m a bit ambivalent about this book. It did not live up to the prepublication promotional material and was more disappointing than entertaining. Jackie and Peter Hatch have past the thirty year mark of their complicated marriage. At the beginning of the story, Peter has just published his first political suspense novel after a distinguished career as a journalist and speech writer for a U.S. Senator. This new beginning is juxtaposed with the news that Jackie has just been diagnosed with cancer and given a rather dismal prognosis. From this point the author moves back and forth from past to present starting with their first meeting as seniors in high school. Their ensuing lives reflect what appears to be a stable, loving marriage that is, in fact, built on Jackie’s insecurity and Peter’s uncertainty. The story is told in the first person narrative through Peter’s perspective. It was challenging to get into the book, which starts out very slowly, but became interesting at the half way point. While I never felt an affinity for either character, I did empathize with Peter after he experiences a traumatic and life-altering event as a teenager. Overall his character seemed rather self-absorbed and underserving of his wife’s devotion. I never felt Jackie’s authenticity until she began to face the reality of her diagnosis. My ambivalence arises from the fact that the author is clearly good at his craft from a literary perspective, and I thoroughly enjoyed broadening my vocabulary through his well-chosen modifiers. Where the book fell short for me was the rather aloof approach to these characters lives. Since I didn’t experience much engagement emotionally with the storyline, I was pleasantly surprised with the forgiveness and redemption themes that colored their relationship at the conclusion. My thanks to the author, Gallery Books, and NetGalley for the privilege of reviewing a digital ARC in exchange for an independent, honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy Minor

    In The Sweetest Days, John Hough, Jr., explores a long-running marriage of high school sweethearts, Jackie and Pete. When the story opens, Pete has just published his first novel. Pete and Jackie got to Cape Cod, their hometown, for his first book signing. Complicating matters, Jackie has just been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis is dire. As they are getting ready to go to the book signing, they encounter a high school classmate. This encounter will set both Jackie and Pete back. At this In The Sweetest Days, John Hough, Jr., explores a long-running marriage of high school sweethearts, Jackie and Pete. When the story opens, Pete has just published his first novel. Pete and Jackie got to Cape Cod, their hometown, for his first book signing. Complicating matters, Jackie has just been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis is dire. As they are getting ready to go to the book signing, they encounter a high school classmate. This encounter will set both Jackie and Pete back. At this point, too, Hough chooses to take readers back and forth in time to give the complete story of Pete and Jackie. Hough returns readers to their high school days and an incident that tears Jackie and Pete apart for some time before they do get back together. Now, Jackie and Pete have been married a long time. Their only daughter is on her own, so the couple must face a new chapter in their lives. The complicating factors include Jackie’s health and the memories of those days gone by, the incident that scarred their high school days. Book club members will find plenty of discussion topics in The Sweetest Days. Clearly, one of those topics will be the health of a long marriage and what happens when one partner is diagnosed with a terrible illness. Another topic that will generate discussion is the empty-nest syndrome. What happens to a long-married couple when the chicks have left the nest? Certainly, discussions will also center on how to cope with devastating illness. John Hough has become a novelist although he comes from a long line of journalists that include his father, grandfather, and great-uncle. Hough has published five novels and three nonfiction books. I received a free copy from BookTrib in exchange for my honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zilpha Owens

    3.5 Stars The Sweetest Days is a look at marriage, love, life and the choices we make that impacts it all. The story circles around the relationship and marriage of Peter and Jackie Hatch. Most of their story is told in Peter’s perspective, whom I really didn’t like, with a few chapters delegated to Jackie. Through their ups and downs, past and present, we get a picture of a not so perfect couple, but one that has chosen to love and build a life together. Although I’m not sure love was always a f 3.5 Stars The Sweetest Days is a look at marriage, love, life and the choices we make that impacts it all. The story circles around the relationship and marriage of Peter and Jackie Hatch. Most of their story is told in Peter’s perspective, whom I really didn’t like, with a few chapters delegated to Jackie. Through their ups and downs, past and present, we get a picture of a not so perfect couple, but one that has chosen to love and build a life together. Although I’m not sure love was always a factor. And that is where I’m a bit conflicted or maybe confused. I guess I’m a sap and I really only want those happy, romantic stories where nothing ever goes wrong and we don’t make dumb choices or decisions and there aren’t any broken hearts. Though the title would lead you to believe this is a sweet take on life, it is not. As a matter of fact as I sit here writing this review I can’t really recall any particularly sweet day that sticks out from the story. But, alas, I started this one and couldn’t stop. That at least says something. Yet I’m torn over my feelings for it. It is a compelling look at attraction, differences, similarities and influences around us that make or break a relationship, love and marriage. It delves into choices and consequences. But it also left me with questions and not so pleasant feelings about Peter and Jackie, their thoughts, beliefs, choices and decisions. In my opinion a few issues were left unanswered or not completely resolved. Or maybe I just missed it. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this because I did. I just wish there had been more sweet than sour.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A Lasting, but Not Perfect Marriage Peter and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone thought they were destined to marry, but Peter was having second thoughts. He planned to end it until he was involved in an incident that changed the course of his life and their relationship. Although they later marry and have been married for more than thirty years, Peter has kept his secret until he finally tells Jackie. As the story opens Peter and Jackie are in their seventies. He has just published hi A Lasting, but Not Perfect Marriage Peter and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone thought they were destined to marry, but Peter was having second thoughts. He planned to end it until he was involved in an incident that changed the course of his life and their relationship. Although they later marry and have been married for more than thirty years, Peter has kept his secret until he finally tells Jackie. As the story opens Peter and Jackie are in their seventies. He has just published his first novel which is a reason to celebrate, but Jackie has just had a cancer diagnosis and the prognosis isn’t good. This is a story of choices and living with the results. Peter and Jackie didn’t have the perfect marriage, but they stayed together and now they’re facing an ending. The story moves back a forth between their past and the present decisions they have to make. Peter is the primary narrator, and I have to admit I didn’t like him. I thought he was too self-centered. I had trouble warming up to Jackie also. She seemed depressed and remote, but perhaps that was intentional as a result of her diagnosis. The book starts slowly, but it picks up in the middle as we get to know the characters better and the crisis points become obvious. I thought the author did a good job delving into the lives to two people who made a choice to be together and stuck it out even if they might not have been the right people for each other. I received this book from Gallery Books for this review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gabriela

    This was an advance copy provided to me by NetGalley. To begin, thank you so much for this ARC. It was my first one. I actually devoured this one because there was so much I wanted to love about this book. I honestly thought it was going to be a little different. The couple in this book has a lifetime of history. Sadly, Jackie receives a heartbreaking cancer diagnosis threatening to cut their lives together short. At one point she begins to inquire about her husband’s past loves and their relatio This was an advance copy provided to me by NetGalley. To begin, thank you so much for this ARC. It was my first one. I actually devoured this one because there was so much I wanted to love about this book. I honestly thought it was going to be a little different. The couple in this book has a lifetime of history. Sadly, Jackie receives a heartbreaking cancer diagnosis threatening to cut their lives together short. At one point she begins to inquire about her husband’s past loves and their relationship is explored with more depth. Through difficult times, they are able to prove that their marriage and the relationship they have is perhaps able to withstand any storm. This is beautiful story and the word resiliency stuck with me as I read. In my opinion that is a word that describes this story. This story plays with your emotions and your heart, ferociously. However, it did take me a while to get into it and sometimes I felt like I was reading just to read. I think that some of what’s provided in the beginning for the most part, I didn’t necessarily cared about. I do love the story and I’m a sucker for sweethearts that go through everything together. Love is not linear. It has its ups, downs, turmoils, and bliss. This story is a perfect example of that. But the writing style wasn’t necessarily my favorite because I had a hard time, at times, following. I pushed through and I’m glad I did it because it gets so good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    The Sweetest Days by John Hough is a reflective novel about a long-married couple facing a health crisis. Jackie and Pete Hatch are long married, high-school sweethearts who return to their hometown for a few days. Pete’s first novel has just been published and he is doing some publicity at a local bookstore. Their visit is a bit of a disaster as Pete finally reveals the long-held secret that lead to their break-up when they were still teenagers. Jackie does not handle the revelation well and she The Sweetest Days by John Hough is a reflective novel about a long-married couple facing a health crisis. Jackie and Pete Hatch are long married, high-school sweethearts who return to their hometown for a few days. Pete’s first novel has just been published and he is doing some publicity at a local bookstore. Their visit is a bit of a disaster as Pete finally reveals the long-held secret that lead to their break-up when they were still teenagers. Jackie does not handle the revelation well and she makes a decision that she quickly comes to regret. Jackie and Pete are not very likable characters. Jackie is, of course, worried about her health diagnosis. She is unhappy with a very negative attitude that she does not temper. As Pete looks back on the event that ended their relationship, readers learn the truth about his thoughts on their wedding day. This flashback is long-winded and does not paint him in the best light.  After this walk down memory lane, Jackie needs time alone as she comes to terms with his secret. Filled with remorse after her impulsive mistake, what will happen to Jackie and Pete’s marriage? The Sweetest Days is an unevenly paced novel about forgiveness and redemption. The characters are not easy to like since they both seem a little self-absorbed. The flashbacks take the reader through Jacki and Pete’s high school romance, separation, and eventually, their reunion that culminates in their marriage. The best part of the novel comes occurs very late in the book as John Hough brings Jackie and Pete’s story to a realistic conclusion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Beautifully written by John Hough, The Sweetest Days spans years, events and lives to tell the story of a long, complicated marriage. When they meet in high school in the early 1960s, Peter Hatch is a high school football star and Jackie Lawrence is a cheerleader. They are a popular couple but as graduation approaches, Pete has decided to end the relationship. Before he can tell Jackie, he spends a day working on a church project. For many reasons, Jackie refuses to participate and what happens Beautifully written by John Hough, The Sweetest Days spans years, events and lives to tell the story of a long, complicated marriage. When they meet in high school in the early 1960s, Peter Hatch is a high school football star and Jackie Lawrence is a cheerleader. They are a popular couple but as graduation approaches, Pete has decided to end the relationship. Before he can tell Jackie, he spends a day working on a church project. For many reasons, Jackie refuses to participate and what happens to Pete during those 24 hours will change many lives and will remain Pete’s secret until he finally confesses to Jackie, decades later. The Sweetest Days is a title that makes you wonder what the author had in mind. Are the sweetest days those when Pete and Jackie experienced young love in high school? Are they the days when Pete dreamed that he would be a Pulitzer Prize winning author? Or the peaceful, satisfying days in a long marriage when you truly know your partner and are content. Without spoilers, the day that Pete spends on the church project is one of the most beautiful, moving and bittersweet passages I have ever read. Thank you, John Hough. 5 stars. Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books and John Hough for this ARC.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Adolfo

    The Sweetest Days is a novel about a couple, lives they’ve lived both together and apart over a lifetime, when the woman is given a devastating cancer diagnosis. She then begins to more intensely curious about her husbands prior “fling” (if you can even call it that), which has clearly bothered her for a long time. Eventually, more and more details are revealed by both Peter and Jackie. The story show the strength of a their marriage, as their bond was stronger than either of them realized. Part The Sweetest Days is a novel about a couple, lives they’ve lived both together and apart over a lifetime, when the woman is given a devastating cancer diagnosis. She then begins to more intensely curious about her husbands prior “fling” (if you can even call it that), which has clearly bothered her for a long time. Eventually, more and more details are revealed by both Peter and Jackie. The story show the strength of a their marriage, as their bond was stronger than either of them realized. Parts of the story were beautiful. In certain places (mostly the middle and just before the very end) the emotional pull of the book was perfectly executed. Unfortunately the beginning was extremely slow and I didn’t really connect with anyone in the story. Eventually it does pick up but I think a huge chunk of the beginning of the story could have been truncated for a more enjoyable read. The narration was a bit awkward initially as well but it does get better as the story progresses. I didn’t hate it, in fact there were parts that I really loved.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

    This was a diamond in the rough! Written in several parts; present, past, present it was rough at times to my reader’s eye and because of the subject matter. It is tough for me, and I’m sure others too, to bounce around in time. Done smoothly, it is a nice way to weave together the fabric of the story. However, in Part 2 I thought I’d lost the lose ends of a very good plot. It wasn’t until much later in Part 3 and 4 that I realized how important it was to go back into Hatch’s and Jackie’s high s This was a diamond in the rough! Written in several parts; present, past, present it was rough at times to my reader’s eye and because of the subject matter. It is tough for me, and I’m sure others too, to bounce around in time. Done smoothly, it is a nice way to weave together the fabric of the story. However, in Part 2 I thought I’d lost the lose ends of a very good plot. It wasn’t until much later in Part 3 and 4 that I realized how important it was to go back into Hatch’s and Jackie’s high school past to understand the life they were currently living and how it would impact their future. Taking into account how death, guilt, infidelity and vindictiveness were portrayed I was concerned that this was going to be completely heartbreaking in the end. The reality was just the opposite. This was a testament to love in all its phases – young, immature, abiding, fought for and most of all enduring. The love that lives beyond the end of physical life. Thank you Net Galley and John Hough for an uplifting and welcome book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    I am not a romance genre fan, and yet I loved reading this about this all-too-realistic 34-yr marriage between Peter and Jackie nee Lawrence Hatch, replete with tribulations and detractions. When they met in high school in 1963, Peter was the football playing son of the local liberal-progressive newspaper editor, and Jackie the new-in-town Texas cheerleader. They grew up to become a successful political writer/professor/published author, and a secretary with breast cancer. Peter might have belie I am not a romance genre fan, and yet I loved reading this about this all-too-realistic 34-yr marriage between Peter and Jackie nee Lawrence Hatch, replete with tribulations and detractions. When they met in high school in 1963, Peter was the football playing son of the local liberal-progressive newspaper editor, and Jackie the new-in-town Texas cheerleader. They grew up to become a successful political writer/professor/published author, and a secretary with breast cancer. Peter might have believed himself to be her intellectual superior, and there were other challenges, but they overcame them, in a bittersweet manner of speaking. This is a book about more than a marriage, there are siblings, fathers, children, closeted skeletons, and failed book readings. And poetic truths like "Love's a choice we make." Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Gallery Books, for the ARC. The Sweetest Days will be published 22 June, 2021.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This story offers a look at marriage, love, secrets and how they impact all of the choices we make. Toss a pebble in to the pond and see how far and for how long the ripples keep going, We meet Pete and Jackie as they’re entering their 70’s. Petes first novel is about to be released as Jackie is given a not too promising cancer diagnosis. They have worked hard to stay together and make their lives together work and think they know everything they need to know about each other. Turns out, they do This story offers a look at marriage, love, secrets and how they impact all of the choices we make. Toss a pebble in to the pond and see how far and for how long the ripples keep going, We meet Pete and Jackie as they’re entering their 70’s. Petes first novel is about to be released as Jackie is given a not too promising cancer diagnosis. They have worked hard to stay together and make their lives together work and think they know everything they need to know about each other. Turns out, they don’t and now are left to wonder what about…everything. Though neither of them for me was terribly likable I did root for them. I enjoyed getting to know this couple through their decades together. It was a good read and I look forward to reading more form this author. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Donna Boyd

    Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. The Sweetest Days by John Hough is a beautiful book that is a heartbreaking love story. Pete and Jackie have been married for a long time and they each have secrets that they have kept from each other for years. When Jackie is diagnosed with cancer and given a 40% chance of survival their marriage is tested by the diagnosis but also by regrets an Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. The Sweetest Days by John Hough is a beautiful book that is a heartbreaking love story. Pete and Jackie have been married for a long time and they each have secrets that they have kept from each other for years. When Jackie is diagnosed with cancer and given a 40% chance of survival their marriage is tested by the diagnosis but also by regrets and those long kept secrets. Will the things that kept them together be the things that ultimately drive them apart? Hough is an accomplished story teller and I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    The first half of The Sweetest Days was a bit slow for me. It took longer than I would have liked to get invested in the characters. Once I was into their story, the book was much more enjoyable for me. The story of Pete and Jackie’s relationship reminded me that we all need to enjoy the ride along the way and not always hold on to issues from the past or hope for things to change in the future - focus on the now and enjoy it because it’s all we have. I loved the frequent references to bands and The first half of The Sweetest Days was a bit slow for me. It took longer than I would have liked to get invested in the characters. Once I was into their story, the book was much more enjoyable for me. The story of Pete and Jackie’s relationship reminded me that we all need to enjoy the ride along the way and not always hold on to issues from the past or hope for things to change in the future - focus on the now and enjoy it because it’s all we have. I loved the frequent references to bands and song titles, it helped me imagine myself in the time period where the characters were at each point in the story. Also, any book that references Phillies baseball is a winner for me! Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books, and the author for sharing this preview of the book. Favorite Quote: “Love’s a choice we make.”

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This book was not at all what I was expecting and in such a good way. After receiving a life-changing diagnosis, this is the story of a love affair. A real story with the human element and all the bumps and challenges that life throws at us. We get to learn the story of how Jackie and Peter met and go with them as they navigate an uncertain future. I did not want to put this book down and finished it within 24 hours. It did get a little slow/long in the middle, but I really enjoyed this book and This book was not at all what I was expecting and in such a good way. After receiving a life-changing diagnosis, this is the story of a love affair. A real story with the human element and all the bumps and challenges that life throws at us. We get to learn the story of how Jackie and Peter met and go with them as they navigate an uncertain future. I did not want to put this book down and finished it within 24 hours. It did get a little slow/long in the middle, but I really enjoyed this book and the story. The writing was so raw and real and while for at least some part of the story, I think I disliked everyone, I really enjoyed this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Danielle B

    Peter and Jackie are high school sweethearts. The book begins in present time, Jackie has gotten a bad cancer diagnosis and they are attending a book signing for a book Peter has written. During the event, a person from their past shows up and it brings back horrible memories. The story goes back and forth about their relationship and Jackie questions her marriage to Peter and everything they every knew about one another. This book was a bit slow for me but picked up about halfway through. I woul Peter and Jackie are high school sweethearts. The book begins in present time, Jackie has gotten a bad cancer diagnosis and they are attending a book signing for a book Peter has written. During the event, a person from their past shows up and it brings back horrible memories. The story goes back and forth about their relationship and Jackie questions her marriage to Peter and everything they every knew about one another. This book was a bit slow for me but picked up about halfway through. I wouldn't say I loved this book but I didn't hate it either. Many thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Snead

    The Sweetest Days By John Hough After several attempts and a few hours of what seemed like aimlessly reading. Finally, the story started to pick up and get interesting! I think it may have been the writing style that I struggled with. After Jackie receives a devastating cancer diagnosis. She begins to dig into her curiosities of many secrets and regrets her and husband Pete had ignored for a long time. This is a beautiful love story that has been tested and experienced heartbreak. The book is emot The Sweetest Days By John Hough After several attempts and a few hours of what seemed like aimlessly reading. Finally, the story started to pick up and get interesting! I think it may have been the writing style that I struggled with. After Jackie receives a devastating cancer diagnosis. She begins to dig into her curiosities of many secrets and regrets her and husband Pete had ignored for a long time. This is a beautiful love story that has been tested and experienced heartbreak. The book is emotional and raw at times. I still struggled to connect with the character. Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    This is a story of a marriage- from beginning to end. The book examines the parts of a life together and how it shapes the relationships and the complexities that come from it. I have mixed feelings about this book. At the end, I did not feel strongly attached to any of the characters or the story of their life. However, this book kept me going and I finished it rather quickly. Despite many events that shaped their life, it felt like nothing really happened. It may be the first time I have felt This is a story of a marriage- from beginning to end. The book examines the parts of a life together and how it shapes the relationships and the complexities that come from it. I have mixed feelings about this book. At the end, I did not feel strongly attached to any of the characters or the story of their life. However, this book kept me going and I finished it rather quickly. Despite many events that shaped their life, it felt like nothing really happened. It may be the first time I have felt this way about a book! A solid 3.5 for me. Thanks to NetGallery and the publisher for the advanced copy.

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