Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: Always With You

By Sara Steven

A secret kept for more than twenty years. A daughter intent on finding the truth…

In 1994, twenty-one-year-old Evelyn Taylor left England to backpack around Australia. When she stopped off in the dusty outback town of Kununurra, she never expected to fall in love with the place - and the people. But Joe Sullivan captured her heart, and when her fun-filled year in Australia came to an end, saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing she’d ever done.

In 2017, Evelyn’s daughter, Libby, embarks on her own Australian adventure. Grief-stricken following her mother’s death, she’s determined to find the father she never met.

Little does she know that digging up the past will be more complicated than she ever imagined. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Initially, Always With You feels as though it’s a story focused primarily on loss. The loss Libby feels after losing her mother, the loss she feels at not knowing who her father is. The loss Evelyn experiences when she has to say goodbye to the love of her life. But what this story really does, is catapult these characters and its readers into an adventure, a soul-searching adventure into the unknown while trying hard to find one’s self within that journey. It’s a parallel experience for both Evelyn, and Libby.

I really loved the way we get to see Evelyn’s experiences, as well as her daughter’s. While they feel similar, the motivation behind it is world’s apart. Evelyn wants to explore a life unknown, and Libby wants to walk in her mother’s footsteps, not knowing that ultimately she really is living her own existence. I felt the relationships between the characters were true to life, particularly when Libby is in search of her father. When she has to confront the man she is convinced she’s linked to, I could really feel the struggle within her, the struggle within him, it wasn’t forced or shallowly written. There were plenty of deep, touching moments that reached right into your chest and pulled hard on the heartstrings.

I fall for stories that have a “coming home” or reunion vein to them, when we get the opportunity to go back and see what changes have occurred, how people have evolved, how the scenery has changed. Having the chance to see it all through Evelyn’s eyes, first, then over twenty years later, the sometimes small and subtle, or very distinct changes that Libby witnesses was really such a unique experience, and really spoke to my nostalgic spirit. The give and take between Evelyn’s strengths and witnesses, and Libby’s, too, was the perfect balance for their story, a balance that touched me deeply and stirred my psyche.

Thanks to Hannah Ellis for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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