It was my first book from Kristin Hannah. I didn't know it was a sequel, it was a great independent read as well. I read all the poor reviews, they seemed to have one thing in common, wanting to have a 'happy' read only. Because I don't have any previous experience from this author, I can tell you that it's honest, raw, but most of all real. It deals with real life tragedies as cancer, death and the tragic aftermath.
I don't think it's depressing. It's REAL. Depression, addiction and hard life lessons are part of a journey for these characters. I think Kristin Hannah walks you through painful losses, lessons and you get to see the character's growth and perseverance in the end. Don't get discourage, it's a great read.