Progress is written to show realistic viewpoints of two characters, Charlie and Jesse, who meet at the restaurant where they work. Charlie is someone who is used to being alone with her fears of her past and her future. Jesse, a victim all his life, chooses to ignore his fears in order to survive every day. There is an intrigue as Charlie sees in him the person she longs to be; no regrets, no promises and no explanations.
The book is written from three points of view. In Part 1, we get to know Charlie. She is smart, nurturing and witty. The physical reaction she gets from seeing Jesse for the first time carries her lust and obsession throughout the book. As their friendship progresses, more of Jesse’s secrets from his past begin to surface, along with an explanation for his moods and reactions.
Charlie is obese. The relationship that is formed between these two characters gives her motivation to lose weight and give her further insight into her own hopes for the woman she fantasizes about being. She has been a victim of ridicule her entire life. In the deepest crevices of her mind and self-esteem, she knows she’s capable of crawling out of her self-loathing to become a part of a life where she’s strong, smart and beautiful.
Charlie and Jesse’s friendship picks up pace, as does her loyalty in wanting to help him. With his erratic behavior and craving for trouble, Charlie occupies much of his time keeping his disturbances to a minimum.
Part II is written from Jesse’s point of view. You gather more of an insight as to what goes through his mind; his bipolar disorder, his foster families and his biological parents along with the death of his sister. His highs are extreme and the lows take him to a darkness that cripples his senses.
Enjoying very few things in his life that are constructive; mountain biking, writing music and visits with a past foster mother, he tries to carve a path that’s worthy of following. After a return visit from an ex-girlfriend, trips to his Psychiatrist, and inviting Charlie to a family reunion, Jesse regains his focus and attempts to determine a direction for success in his work and a life with Charlie. She succeeds in ripping Jesse out of his depression and lifts him up enough to regain a kind of hope.
His appreciation for her discretion, her weight loss and the attention she begins receiving from other men fuel his desire for her. The sexual tension between the two of them increases as she admits that she has her first boyfriend.
In Part III, you get to read from the narrator’s perspective in present tense. Time after time, Charlie is forced to confront her emotional issues with touch, as Jesse wants to soothe them. He thrusts into admitting he wants a relationship with her and attempts to bury wounds that have stopped him from getting into one since his ex-girlfriend.
The reader’s predictions about their future together are answered and the conclusions they come to aren’t as expected, giving the ending a sharp twist.
Progress takes an honest look at Bipolar Disorder, depression, low self-esteem and abuse. This book can be categorized as Psychological Fiction, Contemporary Romance and Commercial Women’s Fiction.