Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: The Best Thing I Never Had

By Becky Gulc

**Giveaway is now closed**

The Best Thing I Never Had by Erin Lawless is another fantastic debut novel by an author I'd happily read further novels from in the future. But whats it all about?

This book is about seven University students who couldn't be closer in their university heyday in 2006/7. It's about bonds developing and breaking, and asks whether broken friendships or relationships can ever be repaired later in life.

The novel starts in the present, 2012, when two of the friends, Nicky and Miles, announce their engagement and we are shown the different reactions to the upcoming wedding by the other five friends. To say there is some apprehension about all getting together again after five years is an understatement. With the apprehension building up, the questions surrounding what went on between this set of friends to break some of the bonds allow us to go back in time to 2006/7 for the first half of the novel.

Here we learn what university life was like for this set of four female and three male friends. With one couple in love, a couple of cases of unrequited lust and love, and an awkward developing romance that could fracture long-standing friendships, there is a lot going on.

Without wanting to spoil what goes on, needless to say I was intrigued to see how the wedding in 2012 would pan out following what is basically a big messy fall out amongst several members of the group at the end of University. What happens in 2012 is covered in the latter part of the novel.

I enjoyed the narrative and was drawn in immediately, wondering why each character had so much angst about attending their friend's wedding, and it worked well by having a good chunk of the novel set in the past and later the present, without constantly flitting between the two.

I found the number of characters confusing for quite a while when reading this, but my head soon got around who was who, and who felt what about whom else, but I did keep having to do a little recap in my head initially. It wasn't long before I felt strongly about what I wanted to happen/not happen between the characters and who I felt was in the right/wrong when events unveil themselves. Because I felt so strongly, I was almost shouting at the book at some points when I could see where it was frustratingly going. I think i would have found it a little less frustrating if Leigha's feelings for one of the friends had been covered in more detail in the early parts of the novel; this seemed minimal, so I had little empathy to her feelings for the most part though.

Overall, I thought there was good character development, particularly for those whom I considered to be the more central characters of Harry, Adam, Leigha and Johnny. By the end of the first half, I couldn't wait to find out what happens in the present and whether my hopes for the characters were realised. I was very happy with how things were tied up at the end, it felt realistic rather than contrived.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others. If you want to be reminded of University days and how happy yet complicated friendships can be (in a more care free time in someone's life as well as when older), this may be the book for you. I'd love to see some of these characters feature in Erin's future work.

Thanks to HarperCollins UK for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have TWO e-books for some lucky readers anywhere in the world! 

How to win:

Please tell us about someone from your past you'd like to reunite with.

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

Open worldwide. Giveaway ends April 16th at midnight EST.


Nova said...

I would love to be re-united with my best friend in high school. After we graduated, we both married. She went with her husband who was in the Navy. I went with my husband (ex) who was in the Air Force. I tried to stay in contact, but we still lost touch. I would love to know how she is doing, as well as her family.

Linda Kish said...

There are a couple people from high school I would like to meet up with again,one an old girlfriend, one an old boyfriend.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

AiringMyLaundry said...

Sounds like a good book.

I'd like to be reunited with a couple of friends from my past. I lost track of them and it makes me sad.

Princess543@yahoo dot com

Janine said...

There really aren'y many people I would want to meet up with again. I met back up with a couple old girlfriends and it didn't work out. One is still a party til you drop girl and the other has so much money, she didn't want anything to do with me when she found out I'm not in the same league as she is. I did meet up with an old boyfriend too and he seemed to have gotten his life together finally. But, he wanted more then friendship and I wasn't willing to go there. Though I talk and email with my ex-husband all the time, I would like to see him again. But, his girlfriend refuses to let him see me when they are in town. She doesn't want to meet me either.

Unknown said...

I had a good friend my senior year in high school. I've tried everything to find him since and can't. Would love to see him again.

Mary Jo Burke said...

A woman I worked with was so much fun. Her life was in chaos, but it didn't hold her back.

Melanie Backus said...

I would like to meet up with a couple met once on a tour. They were from Australia.

mauback55 at gmail dot com

Charlotte said...

There is isn't anyone from my pass that I would like to see at this time.

bn100 said...

no one

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Mary Preston said...

No, I'm quite happy to look forward. No one I can think of from my past I would wish to be re-united with.


Unknown said...

I have a dear friend that I grew up with and we only see each other every 5 years or so. I would love to reconnect with her! She was always special in my life.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to meet up with my toddler friend Stacey. She had a tendency to shed all her clothes, no matter the weather. I had a tendency to bite. Though I outgrew biting I moved several states away so I wonder if she outgrew streaking and what kind of interesting adult she turned into.

Sheerie said...

Apart from all my close family, Mum, Dad, Gran & Grandad who I would obviously like to reunited with even just a short while, to show them my gorgeous kids and my granfpddaughter, that goes without saying. Sadly I wouldn't like to be reunited with people from my past. I suffer with a chronic back problem and am in about 30 tablets a day, that have alter my nice slim body into a bidy I don't like anymore and a back that puts me in so much pain, the sparkle in my face has gone. Thank you for the chance if the give-away. X

Jeryl M. said...

A friend that I was in a show with.

Tami said...

I'd love to meet up with my childhood best friend. I moved away during the summer before my freshman year in high school. So many memories of my youth include her.

Tamileepronske at gmail dot com

Melissa said...

Thanks for participating and telling us who you'd like to reunite with. There's a girl I met through the V.C. Andrews online club I created a long time ago whom I would love to find and connect with again. She has no online presence though.

Thanks to HarperCollins UK for sharing the e-books with our winners. chose TWO winners from all entries with contact info. (One entry per person.)

Congrats to:
Jill Barville
Linda Falvo