“The whole human race is in a love-hate relationship with change.”

I requested this book on NetGalley because I have come to love Lia Louis’ take on life, despite not knowing her at all.  Her daily musings on Twitter have me laughing out loud as often as they have me nodding in recognition and appreciation of their sagacity.  This author is someone with a talent for noticing and pointing out all the shades of grey in our imperfect, ordinary, complicated, beautiful daily lives, and she brings this same warmth and keen perceptiveness to her novel writing.

I don’t actually want to say too much about the plot here, because I loved the way I was led through the details and revelations of the past and the present one by one, but suffice it to say that main character Lizzie has, now an adult, recovered from a turbulent adolescence in which her mental health proved yet another challenge of many for her to navigate.  In her complicated journey through that period she had a great friend in Roman, who was struggling to make it down his own rocky road. He’s long since disappeared, leaving her bereft, but when a letter surfaces which might help her track him down again, events are set in motion that will cause memories and feelings (and maybe more) to resurface.

This book is so good.  It’s unusual and sweet and truthful and human, and also expertly plotted and paced.  The settings are vivid, the characters are flawed and well-drawn and complex. If I had one wish, it might be that the author had taken her characters further, and to yet darker places than the ones she did. I know from experience that poor mental health, and addiction, can be among the very deepest of darknesses.  But then maybe that’s another book; another book happening somewhere out there in another life (once you’ve read the book you’ll know what I’m alluding to here). This book isn’t about those deepest, murkiest shades of grey; neither is it about murder, or revenge, or sweeping epic romance, or any of the other things that SO many books are about to the point that it sometimes all gets a bit much.  Instead it’s about real life, and real people, and the real dramas and ups and downs that make up our lives. It’s honest about the things that hurt us, about the things that make it difficult to move on or to forgive. And there should be more books about those moments. There should be more books that say: life is beautiful, but is is also tough and complicated and it doesn’t always work out the way we planned, all while making wise observations about the truths that ring somewhere deep inside all of us, no matter who we are (see quote above – just one of many I could have picked).

Overall, a great read – and I can’t wait to see what Lia Louis does next.

Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC etc!