Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: Who We Were Before

By Melissa Amster

I don’t normally gravitate toward books involving the loss of a child. As a mother, they are hard for me to read. I have stumbled across a few that sneaked it into a story after I was gripped. However, I knew about it already going into Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer, as it is the main premise of the book, but the aftermath is what interested me enough to give it a chance.

Zoe knows that it wasn’t really her fault. Of course it wasn’t. But if she’d just grasped harder, run faster, lunged quicker, she might have saved him. And Edward doesn’t really blame her, though his bitter words at the time still haunt her, and he can no more take them back than she can halt the car that killed their son.

Two years on, every day is a tragedy. Edward knows they should take healing steps together, but he’s tired of being shut out. For Zoe, it just seems easier to let grief lead the way.

A weekend in Paris might be their last hope for reconciliation, but mischance sees them separated before they’ve even left Gare du Nord. Lost and alone, Edward and Zoe must try to find their way back to each other—and find their way back to the people they were before. But is that even possible?
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

You may have already read a book (or two) by Leah Mercer. She writes romantic comedies as Talli Roland. I understand why she needed to change her name for this novel, as it is not a comedy at all. However, there are some romantic aspects that take place during some flashback scenes. While the subject matter is a heavy and emotional trigger, I was able to read the entire novel and get caught up in the story. Yes, it was sad to think about, but Leah writes sensitively about what happened and gives her characters realistic levels of grief, while also trying to help them move forward in their lives and relationship.

I like how Leah alternated between Zoe and Edward’s narratives, as well as between past and present. She wove a story that flowed really well regardless of character or time changes. Both characters were sympathetic and I wondered what would happen for each of them and if they’d come out okay on the other end. There were some painful parts regarding the loss of their child, but they also satisfied my curiosity about what happened and I treated them as a cautionary tale.

Overall, it was a really well-written and engaging novel. I'm impressed by Talli's morph into Leah and her new writing style, as a result. I almost forgot these authors were the same person shortly after starting the book. The only concern I had was that it went on a bit long toward the end, but I like the way it ended. I have no idea who to cast for a movie version, but would love to hear your ideas after you read this. Of course, there's the option of taking a chance on unknown actors....

Thanks to Lake Union for the book in exchange for an honest review. Enter to win a Kindle version at Goodreads (US only). It's also $1.99 for Kindle First members. (Both the giveaway and the deal end on September 30th.)


Janine said...

I'm not even a mother, but I think it would be hard for me to want to pick up this book too. I'm glad you gave it a chance and it turned out to be good. After reading your review, I think I also want to read it.

Letty Blanchard said...

Nice review. It's also hard for me to read these types of books but I did pick this one as my Kindle First book. Hope to read it soon.

Kim said...

Those kinds of stories are difficult to read.

The Book Sage said...

A very good review, Melissa. I agree that these are hard stories to read. But if you know what happens up front, you can deal with it a little bit easier. This reminds me of John Hart's The Last Child. That one is about a 12-year old boy who looks for his twin sister, who has been kidnapped. Also tough, but you know the premise up front. It is excellent, as this one also seems to be.