Book Review: The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson.

the-chocolate-run-by-dorothy-koomson-goodreadsNo. of Pages: 419 pages

Date Published: February 7, 2008 (first published March 25, 2004)

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Author’s Website: Dorothy Koomson

So here’s the other book from the same friend who loaned me The Stepmothers’ Support Group by Sam Baker. Actually, that’s the same friend who loaned me two bags full of books to make up for my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge (since I only have 15 with me now). This one is called The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson and you know what? After I finished the book, I realised how much it mirrored my life especially during my college years when I used to have a friend who was as bitchy and manipulative as Amber Salpone’s friend, Jenna Leigh Hartman.

Amber Salpone is not a chocoholic. She doesn’t gorge on chocolates nor does she bury her sorrows in packs of chocolates either. Amber is a chocolate sniffer; an individual who gets her kicks from sniffing chocolate, kind of like a glue sniffer, but she needs to her chocolate fix to think and make decisions. Amber compares everyone she meets to chocolate, from her boss Renee to Matt, her then best friend, Jenna’s boyfriend and fiance. Chocolate is a constant in her life, what we’d call her safety net. But she eventually learns that running to chocolate all the time is not always going to help her. As a reult of her commitment-phobic self, she has not been in a relationship for 18 months and she loves every moment of it. Yet, she cannot fathom why she is falling in love with Greg, her male best friend and epic womaniser! Curious, she decides to pursue this relationship with Greg, despite the barriers and personal issues. As she does so, she also realises that her best friend is slowly turning into a skinny, selfish and horrid person whom Amber doesn’t know anymore nor does she want to know either. There are some pretty dark secrets that Amber and her four friends harbour; secrets that threaten to tear apart what seemed like a great friendship. She will have to confront them one day and make her choices about who is her true friend and lover.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Amber Salpone doesn’t keen to keep ending up in bed with her friend Greg Walterson, but she can’t help herself. And every time it “just happens” their secret affair moves closer to being a real relationship, which is a big problem when he’s a womanizer and she’s a commitment-phone. While Amber struggles to accept her new feelings for Greg, she also realizes that her closeness to Jen, her best friend, is slipping away and the two of them are becoming virtual strangers. Slowly but surely, as the stark truths of all their lives are revealed, Amber has to confront the fact that chocolate can’t cure everything and sometimes running away isn’t an option… The Chocolate Run is a delectable tale of lust, love and chocolate.

About The Story

I liked the book to an extent, though like I said, it could probably be because it mirrored a lot of my life during my college years. This is my first book that I’m reading by this author and so far, it was a rather exciting and gripping tale. Each character had his or her story to tell and room to grow. The author wove the story in such a way that you would feel how the main character felt — when Amber was sad, you were sad too; and when her heart broke, so did yours. Renee and Martha, her work colleagues, were amazing supporting characters who added a dash of laughter, sarcasm and wit to the mix but were generally good people and probably better friends than Matt and Jenna.

Amber would have made a wonderful friend to Jenna had their relationship continued to go strong. However, beneath every greatness lies a deep, dark secret. Amber was damaged as an individual. Having survived her parents’ divorce, she was always running away from things that often looked like they had a capacity to hurt her and she couldn’t bear to think about the future. All she wanted was the ‘right here, right now’. She had what I had, a fight-or-flight response built into her and like yours truly, we both chose ‘flight’ as our response to when things got too tough for us. Eventually, however, it became frustrating to know that Amber was running away from some of the greatest things in her life but as a reader, I knew there was always a reason for her flaws.

But she did have someone else whom she could turn to when she was having an issue. That someone was Eric, her stepbrother whose dad fell in love and moved in with her mother. It was really interesting to read the many ways that Amber tried as she worked through her issues. Not just for Greg or with Greg but more so for herself. Despite being seen as strong on the outside, she was usually vulnerable and frightened on the inside. This book gave Amber more than enough space to grow from a meek individual into a strong and capable woman by the end of the novel.

As with every book, there was always someone setting himself or herself up to be hated and despised. In The Chocolate Run, it was Amber’s so-called best friend, Jenna. In fact, the more I read about her, the more she made me remember the friend whom I used to hang out with in college and hated every thing she did, the more I despised her! That’s what attracted me to the book in the first place. I’ve been in Amber’s situation before and I used to have a friend who started off being nice to me but eventually ended up as the most hypocritical person ever. Yet, no one could see this but me. That’s because she was great with others but when it came to me, oh boy, she could be downright critical and judgmental. I felt like a proud mother hen though when Amber realised what was really going on and how she dealt with the situation. She had more balls than me to end the friendship whereas I could not bring myself to tell the person that it was over between us. It felt extremely satisfying since I always hate it when a “bad” character in a book gets off with a caution or a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

What I Thought…

Personally, I thought that this was a very chocolatey story! It wasn’t too sweet and cliched for my liking. It just made me want to dive into a pot full of hot, smooth and silky melted chocolate. At first, when I learnt of how Greg Walterson was throwing himself at Amber, I thought, ‘Oh how lovely it must be to have a man throwing himself at you.‘ And not just any man, mind you, but a man who is a hit with the women yet he only wants to be with you.

Although, I believe alarm bells would go off in my head if I knew what sort of man he is: A serious womaniser. Would I still want to be with him? Would I trust him if he said he gave me his little black book and deleted all the women’s numbers in his mobile phone? Like I mentioned above, the book reminded me a lot about how I was always picking up after a friend who was too busy hooking up and getting hurt to realise how much of our friendship had been unravelled because of that. It was painful then and it is still painful now just thinking about it. The first question would be: Who comes first? Your best friend or your boyfriend? Assuming you knew both of them for around the same period of time. Then, the next question would be: What happens if your boyfriend thinks your best friend is taking you for granted but you don’t see it? What happens if your best friend thinks you’re abandoning her for your boyfriend? I know right?

Amber Salpone is a lot like me (and a lot of other girls or boys in this situation). We tend to overthink a lot and then get nauseous or headachey when things we thought so hard about began as trivial matters and ended up becoming big and complicated. But this is what reality is all about: Friendship torn apart by the drama and lust of love and relationships. It also reminds me of how much we value friendships to the point of being unable to choose between your significant other and your best friend. What we should have is a healthy balance of both, although more often than not, that’s easier said than done. But if I had a friend like Amber Salpone does in the book, I’d be more than ready to dump her and drop the friendship because with toxic friends like Jenna Hartman, you don’t need enemies.

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