[I received this book for free from its publisher Penguin Canada. This does not affect my opinion of the book.]
Then and Always by Dani Atkins made me read-walk. What I mean by that is that it was so compelling that I had to keep reading it as I was walking home after the bus dropped me off at my stop. And this happened more than once.
The book is centered around accident-prone Rachel Wiltshire. When we are introduced to her, she’s meeting up with her friends for dinner to celebrate their high school graduation until something cuts their night short. Years later, she returns to her hometown where an accident changes her life forever. Suddenly, everything that she knows is wrong. Her life is drastically different from what she remembers. She has her dream job, is engaged to be married, and everyone in her family is alive and well. How did she get to this point? What happened to her old life? Is this new life really real?
Choosing to write this book in first-person was an excellent idea. It really adds to the feeling of confusion: what is happening? Who’s telling the truth; who isn’t? I love that we see and feel everything through Rachel’s perspective and, honestly, I don’t think it would have worked any other way. Then and Always has a bit of everything for everyone. Of course, there’s romance, but there’s also mystery and intrigue. The need to find out the truth about Rachel’s life really pushes the story forward and the novel is paced perfectly. As a character, Rachel is well-developed and you get to understand her motivations very well, even in her muddled state. Of course, there were times when I wanted to scream at her as she kept brushing off something that was extremely obvious and there were instances where I felt like her new life was just too perfect. But I’m happy to report that Atkins knows exactly what she’s doing, so I’m just going to tell you to trust her on this one and enjoy the ride.
Someone once told me that they didn’t like it when reviews prepare readers for twists because knowing about it spoils the fact that there is one. So I won’t tell you that. I will say that at some point in the book, everything is going to be tied up very satisfyingly (at least in my opinion) and everything will make sense. That’s really all you could want out of a book, right? I loved that this book challenged my expectations and I’m so happy that I read it all the way through (not that putting it down was an option – I just had to know what was happening!). It wasn’t exactly what I expected, and that made me love it so much more.
Verdict: A very solid read. Plays with memory and the chaos of confusion very well. The book leans a bit towards women’s fiction, but it is suitable for everyone. Pack this in your vacation bag!
Read if: You are looking for the perfect beach read, love books that surprise you, liked movies like The Vow and 13 Going on 30.
Now, because Penguin Canada has generously given me the opportunity to do a giveaway as a part of the blog tour, it’s time for a giveaway!
1. No purchase necessary
2. Open to residents of Canada only
3. Please do not cheat on the tasks, I will be checking them once a winner has been chosen
4. If a winner is picked and their Twitter account only has giveaway entries, I will choose again. I want the winner to genuinely enjoy these books!
5. Have fun and good luck!
This is what the advanced reading copy looks like. Beautiful, right?
Have you read Then and Always? Do you think you will? What are you packing in your beach bag this summer?