My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 3 days
Publisher - Penguin
Pages - 435
Blurb from Goodreads
A poignant and touching portrayal of love and loss told from a wonderfully original perspective.
Rachel and Max met eleven years ago. They were the perfect couple - best friends, lovers and partners - and when their daughter, Ellie, came along they thought their family was complete. The last thing they expected was that one celebratory night out would change their lives forever.
But fate had other plans.
Now Max is doing his best to adapt to his new life without Rachel - he might forget which day Ellie needs her sports kit and the name of her favourite teacher but he's trying his hardest - and the last thing he wants is more change.
Lonely and alone, Rachel is stuck in a place between worlds. Grieving everything she has lost and everything she won't experience, she has no choice but to watch helplessly as her family face a future without her. But what Rachel doesn't realise is that love is so strong that the one thing that will break her heart may become the one thing she wishes for more than anything.
The story opens up with a powerful line from Rachel, our main character leaving you with no delusions that she is in fact dead. What follows is Rachel's thoughts, feelings and views as she watches her family, when permitted, trying to recover from her sudden departure. Alongside this Rachel is going through the different stages of grieving, for the life she had and that which she will never have. We get to see her family through her eyes as they also try to recover and deal with a life without Rachel. Max is devastated trying to come to terms with the loss of his wife, Ellie their wee girl and Rachels's mum who has already suffered a big loss. The family deals with it in different ways and we get to view this as and when Rachel does.
This story is very different from anything I have ever read, initially I didn't think I would like it. Rachel is in a place between our world and where you imagine spirits would go after they die. There isn't a how or why, we are given as much info as Rachel is which is nothing. At first I thought this was a cop out by the author, but actually it added to the "realism" of the story. We don't know what happens to us when we pass and Rachel is there with as much understanding as we have, learning as we do with her.
She gets to "visit" her family with no seeming pattern to it, access is when it is given. Rachel is limited in many ways which adds to her anger, loneliness and frustration.
This is a lovely, sad and heart breaking story that hits you on subtle levels provoking big reactions, deep thoughts and emotions as you can't help, well I couldn't, but think about people you have lost. A very powerful book, not because of the tale itself which is very different and well put together story but because of the chain of thought and emotions it may evoke from you. I think it is a fantastic debut novel, done in a unique way and I would be happy to read this author again. 4/5 for me this time and thank you to RealReaders for an ARC of this book and introducing me to a new author. This book is available for release on 13th of February 2014.