I’m going to confess, and its not something I’m particularly proud or ashamed of, but when I asked for an advanced reading copy of this book I was not really aware of the author. I mean I’d sold plenty of copies of her first book, which offers up advice to teenagers and young adults, but I’d never read any of it and I’ve never seen anything on her YouTube channel. I’m really, really not her target audience (too old, too cynical) and, try as I might, I can’t read everything. But the brief plot description – of a woman who dies at a ripe old age but finds she can’t move on to her own personal afterlife until she deals with secrets from her life which are weighing her down – was intruiging so I thought I’d give it a go.
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to warm to the actual book. Even Bex told me she didn’t think it was my kind of thing but I persisted with it and I’m glad I did. I did care about Evie, the main character, and I was interested to know what secrets she had which were holding her back from moving on. The story which explains this was warm and I felt so sorry for Evie and the sacrifices she made for love. The world she moves to after she dies (and before she is able to pass on to her own version of heaven) is a rather magical version of a block of flats she lived in as a young woman and it was probably this part I liked best. Especially the kindly guide who helps Evie to understand her next steps.
My problem with the book as a whole is that I’m not sure of its timeline. I do like a novel to have a firm time setting – a reason why I enjoy historical fiction – and I didn’t get a sense of that here. Everything seemed to be set in the current day which is fine except it needs to cover Evie’s life from 27 to 82. I think this is the point where Fletcher’s youth shows – when you are very young it is so hard to realise that life could be very different in 50 years time. The writing wasn’t bad and I can see Fletcher maturing in time but at the moment I was continually struck by a feeling of youth. And also Evie’s family situation reminded me of the sitcom Miranda (but rather more tragic) which was always a favourite with my nieces (who are in their early 20s). In fact, I think I may have read my first novel which could be classed as ‘New Adult’…