50 pages 1 hour read

Colleen Hoover

Reminders of Him

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2022

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

Since her literary debut in 2011 (she published her first novel at her own expense), Colleen Hoover has become one of the most prolific and commercially successful romance novelists of the new millennium. A perennial presence on both The New York Times and Amazon best seller lists, Hoover, or CoHo as her fans know her, redefined the romance genre by introducing complex characters who face profound emotional dilemmas.

Reminders of Him (2022) is at once a conventional romance and a reimagination of the genre. Kenna Rowan, age 26, returns to her hometown near Denver after being in prison for five years. She is determined to have a relationship with her four-year-old daughter, Diem Landry. The story offers elements of the romance genre: the hesitant movement toward new love by those wounded by previous relationships, and the affirmation of hope as characters find their way to new beginnings through friends and family. However, Kenna is hardly a typical romance heroine. She was in prison for a drunk driving accident that killed the only man she ever loved—Scotty Landry, the father of Diem. Diem is now being raised by Scotty’s parents, Grace and Patrick Landry. In its exploration of the dynamics of grief, the complicated psychology of forgiveness, and the heroic struggle for a second chance, the novel tests how to handle guilt and self-doubt and shows how a bandaged heart can find its way to love again.

This study guide uses the 2022 paperback edition by Montlake Press.

Plot Summary

At 26, Kenna is released from prison after serving five years for involuntary vehicular manslaughter in the death of her boyfriend, Scotty. Although she understands the risks, she heads back to her hometown, determined to meet her daughter, Diem, born while she was in prison and now being raised by Scotty’s parents. 

Her first night in town, Kenna searches out a bookstore she loved to visit only to find it is now a bar. She goes in for coffee and is momentarily intrigued by the attractive bartender who turns out to be the owner, Ledger Ward, a former professional football player and one of Scotty’s closest friends. Ledger, for his part, cannot stop looking at the sad-eyed woman sitting by herself nursing a cup of coffee. He does not know who she is. Ledger lives across the street from Scotty’s parents and has developed a friendship with Diem. Over the next several weeks, Kenna and Ledger get to know each other. To avoid any public commotion, Kenna tells Ledger her name is Nicole, though he eventually realizes that “Nicole” is Kenna. Kenna takes a job as a cashier at a grocery store. 

Kenna believes the best way to meet her daughter is to go up to the Landrys’ front door and simply tell them how sorry she is. She appeared catatonic during her trial, which the town mistook for Kenna’s indifference. Only interference from Ledger who physically carries her out of the Landrys’ yard stops Kenna from what Ledger assures her would have been an ugly scene. Ledger tries to explain to Kenna that the Landrys are trying to put their lives back together. A heartbroken Kenna is still determined to meet her daughter. As Ledger sees Kenna’s emotions, he struggles against the town’s perception of Kenna as some heartless monster who left Scotty to die on a remote rural road.

Kenna is emphatic about one thing: She wants to see her daughter without destroying the world Scotty’s parents and Ledger have given her. As sightings of Kenna begin to circulate the town, Scotty’s parents secure a restraining order banning Kenna from getting within 500 feet of her child. The more Kenna confides her pain to Ledger, however, the more the two begin to fall in love. Ledger was engaged, but his bride was not comfortable with the level of involvement he maintains in Diem’s life and the couple broke up. When Kenna and Ledger finally make love, Kenna discovers a deep satisfaction in intimacy that she had all but forgotten. The two are in love.  

Kenna is crushed by the restraining order and thinks about leaving town altogether. After all, the Landry family is fine and her daughter is happy. To help Kenna save money to leave town, Ledger offers her part-time work in his bar. It is only when Roman, Ledger’s bartender, confronts Ledger that Ledger begins to see Kenna in a different light. Roman reminds Ledger how often Ledger has given the people who work at the bar, including Roman himself, second chances. Ledger is convinced he might have judged Kenna too harshly. When Scotty’s parents learn that Ledger is seeing Kenna, however, they ask him to choose between Kenna and the Landrys.

Kenna reveals to Ledger that she writes letters to Scotty, which helped her during her imprisonment. There are now more than 300 letters. Ledger asks Kenna whether he might read a letter that would explain the accident that killed Scotty. Reluctantly, Kenna reads it to him. The letter reveals how both Scotty and Kenna were drinking that night but that Kenna was slightly less intoxicated. The car, with Kenna at the wheel, went into a skid and ended up flipping over in a ditch. Kenna, sure that Scotty was dead and that she was to blame, walked home in shock. She would not find out until the next morning that Scotty lived for more than six hours after the accident, bleeding to death on the highway. She is beyond grief, later reflected in her catatonic appearance at her trial.

Ledger now sees how the town has harshly judged Kenna. He is determined to schedule a meeting between Grace (Scotty’s mother) and Kenna. Ledger shows Grace a copy of the letter, and she is overwhelmed. She spent five years demonizing the girl who killed her son, but now she sees the circumstances of the accident in a far different light. She wants Kenna to know she now forgives her for the accident. With Ledger’s help, Grace goes to Kenna’s apartment. There, she and Kenna embrace in tears. Grace promises to introduce Kenna to Diem.

Kenna comes to the Landry home for dinner and meets Diem. The two hit it off right away, and for the first time in a long time Kenna feels joy.

Two years go by. Kenna and Ledger now live together across the street from Diem and the Landrys. Although for the sake of keeping Diem’s life stable, Diem still lives with her grandparents, she often stays with Kenna and Ledger. Kenna and Ledger now have a child, a son they have named Scotty.

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