Friday, February 25, 2022

Book Review: The Life You Left Behind

By Melissa Amster

Two strangers.

One missed flight.

It only takes a moment to change a life.

One year ago Casey Cassidy was happy. She had great friends, a wonderful teaching job and a busy life - until with one missed flight, everything changes.

One year later Casey knows what it means to find that once-in-a-lifetime love people dream of. But when Ben leaves, her heart is shattered.

Left facing a year of firsts without him, piecing her life back together seems impossible. But then a friend offers her a home in rural France.

In the solitude and emptiness, Casey needs to comes to terms with what’s happened and find a way to move forward. She has no idea where that will take her one year later...

The premise of this book captured my attention, which is why I wanted to read it initially. I also love the cover. The story was interesting overall, with a strong narrative throughout. I liked Casey a lot and sympathized with her plight. I couldn't fathom being in a wonderful relationship only to have it end a year after it started. I don't blame Casey for wanting to get away. 

The story goes back and forth in time over the span of two years or so. The first year is Casey's life with Ben, which all is talked about in the past. The second year is Casey's life in France, without Ben, and how she's trying to get her life back together and possibly move on when she's still stuck on him. Along the way, she makes a new friend and finds a diary with an intriguing story that mirrors her own in some ways. 

There were a lot of good things about this story and I liked how bits and pieces unfolded throughout, painting the bigger picture of what was going on. However, there were some things that didn't work as well for me. The past scenes being written all in italics felt unnecessary as a font choice. It was clear that the events were in the past, due to the chapter headings of "Before." The time progression felt strange too. There were times when a whole month would go by but it felt like nothing was really going on during that time period. Casey finds this diary, reads a couple of pages, and then waits another month before reading more? I would devour that thing in one day! It seemed odd that she kept dragging it out when she had all that time to herself anyway. I also felt like some of the story was preachy. I get that horrible things are happening in the world, but there was an element of guilt for the reader. Finally, I wish the climax had come as more of a surprise. There were so many hints leading up to it and lots of foreshadowing due to Casey writing about the past from the present view.

Debbie Howells tackles the subject of mental health in an honest and sensitive way. The timing actually works well with the return of A Million Little Things, which also covers a lot of mental health topics. Overall, I enjoyed this novel and it had a Leah Mercer, Josie Silver, and Rosie Walsh feel. 

Movie casting suggestions:
Ben: Tom Ainsley (I've been watching How I Met Your Father and he just popped into my head while reading this book.)
Sylvie: Inès Melab

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

While working as long-haul cabin crew in her twenties, Debbie Howells trained as a pilot and qualified as a flying instructor.  But as the mother of two small children, she wanted a career she could fit around them and started a wedding flower business, Country Flowers.  For thirteen years, Debbie created the natural, seasonal designs she became known for to venues throughout the South East.

It was towards the end of this time she started writing, in a notebook in the shade of her garden on her days off, self-publishing three women’s fiction novels, the third of which, Wildflowers, almost but not quite found her a literary agent. 

Pursuing her dream of a traditional publishing deal, she went on to write her first psychological thriller, the Sunday Times bestseller, The Bones of You.  Four more have followed including the e-book bestseller The Vow, but it’s another long-awaited dream come true that her women’s fiction novels have now found a home with Boldwood.

Visit Debbie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Visit all the stops on Debbie's blog tour:

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1 comment:

Suburban prep said...

Sounds like a good read. Will be on the lookout for it at the store.