Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Diagnosis Unknown

"For luck."
--Dani Atkins, Then and Always



Genre: Adult Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 320
Publication Date: May 20th, 2014
Source: eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Description

For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers.

Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.

Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment, but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.
The Story The whole idea of alternate lives and parallel universe is explored here. The first chapter is right after graduation high school and a group of friends are at a farewell dinner where a horrible accident occurs and one of their friends dies. The next two chapters are both 5 years later and show Rachel getting ready to go back to her hometown for her best friend's wedding. In one situation, her friend is dead and she is dreading going back. The next is as if their friend didn't die at all. The story continues from this perspective with her oldest friend still being alive and she has a life she doesn't recognize. Rachel struggles to understand what has happened to her and why nobody remembers the life she had before. This was extremely interesting to read about because you just didn't know what was real and what happened. It definitely kept me interested in what happened, what is happening, and what was going to happen.

The End I obviously will not reveal the ending of the story but it was the best part of the book for me. It was beautiful and slightly unexpected. I got really emotional out of nowhere and all I can describe it as is really, really beautiful.

The Yelling There were parts of the writing that really bothered me. I felt like there were so much dialogue with characters ending their sentences with exclamation points that didn't seem to fit with the conversation. It was something I noticed that happened constantly and all I kept thinking was, 'Why are we all yelling?...' It just didn't seem to fit with the context of the situation and felt very out of place and immature feeling.

The Development While I did enjoy the relationship between Rachel and Jimmy, I just didn't feel there was a lot to go off of with the other relationships in the book. I liked Rachel's Dad but I wanted more conversation between them. Her Dad clearly had opinions about a lot of things and I would think as a parent he would voice his concerns about certain situations. I also really wanted more with Rachel's best friend Sara. It seemed like there could have been so much more to their friendship development that could have added to the story.

General Admission
While I really loved the ending and the story kept me interested, this won't be a book that stays with me or that keeps me thinking about it. It was a quick read and an enjoyable story but it fell flat in character development. 

1 comment:

  1. Then and Always sounds like it could have had real potential to be great! I do like the idea of a parallel/alternative life timeline, but it kind of sucks that only one relationship is really developed overall.

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