Book Pick of the Month: August
Review by Nicole Langridge
I've been eager for this one for a little while now, but I may be a bit biased towards the gorgeous human being that is Carrie Hope Fletcher. For those who don't know of her, Carrie is a London-dwelling West-End performer, youtuber and debut novelist. Only last year she published her first non-fiction book, All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up Gracefully which focused on her life thus far with tales of teenage to adult transitions, advice and life lessons.
However, On the Other Side is her first fictional novel and was only published last week! Already a fan, I was just a tad proud to pick up her book from my local shop a few days ago. But before I get into a little bit of commentary on this delightfully sad but sweet story, a short recap to set the mood: Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep. But instead of finding herself in the afterlife, she's left lingering in an in-between place that looks like her old apartment, in the body of her twenty-seven year old self. And most importantly, she cannot unlock the door to her personal heaven because her heart is too heavy. Before Evie can move on, she must lighten her soul and heart by unburdening herself of the three secrets which have weighed her down for over fifty years.
On The Other Side is quite the emotional journey, making you smile when things go delightfully right for Evie, and teary when they start to fall apart. The novel presents parallel stories – Evie's past unveils so you may understand the stories behind her secrets, and Evie's visits to the living world to whisper into her family's ears that that they too may move on from her death.
If you know Carrie, this book is one hundred percent her. Her personality is in every letter, every line and in the very heart of Evie. You can't help but fall in love with Evie and want her to succeed with her dreams despite the challenges. Of course, as we get to know Evie's past, we meet an array of other characters: Vincent Winters, a true loved separated by circumstance; Jim, one of the kindest souls of the novel bar Evie herself; Evelyne Snow, Evie's mother and someone I grew to despise on for her actions more and more as the novel went; and later, Evie's children, August and Isla.
Each holds the story together and is as vibrant on the page as the supporting characters. You want happy endings for all of them (except maybe Evelyn). It may be a little cheesy at times but I think we all need a cheesy love story every now and then. The little flecks of magical realism that creep up on the pages are well placed without turning this into a fantasy novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish, reading it in proper chunks over two days. While I was already a fan of Carrie's, this book holds its own without her prior reputation to some people. I cant wait for more stories from Carrie.
Written by SCWC
Posted on August 10, 2016