Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Review of 'On The Other Side' by Carrie Hope Fletcher

"A love story like no other, this is the debut novel from Carrie Hope Fletcher, author of the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller All I Know Now.

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren.  It's the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she's become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won't open.

Evie's soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy.  For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must ind a way to reveal them before it's too late.  As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow, some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love...

On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget.  Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, this is a love story like no other from everyone's favorite 'big sister,' Carrie Hope Fletcher."

I have followed Carrie on YouTube for several years now.  When she was in Les Miserables in London's West End, I went and saw her perform as Eponine while I was studying abroad.  It turns out I was very lucky to see her perform that day-- she was sick and only managed to do the matinee show, but not the evening performance.  I am very, very fortunate.  I have enjoyed watching her grow up on YouTube and start venturing further into her arts career.  So when I found out she was writing a story-- fiction this time-- I was incredibly excited.  But I also walked into this book rather blind, not knowing what Carrie was like as a fiction writer.

I love the general concept of this story.  I love stories that explore the afterlife and what that is like (this fascination sounds creepier than it actually is).  I love that in this afterlife, you go back to a place where you were most yourself.  For Evie, that was her first apartment and where she found her first love.  If that is what life is like after death, there shouldn't be a reason we fear death as we age and start falling apart.  That's a nice feeling.

The feeling of this book was quite different than others I've experienced.  Because the story shifts from the present, when Evie is in the afterlife, to the past, when Evie is actually alive and there's magical elements involved in both periods of time, there's this whimsical and lucid feeling to the tale Carrie tells.  It's really interesting.  I realized as I was reading this book that a lot of the magic elements really threw me off.  I think I've been reading a lot of realistic fiction lately, and magical things don't typically happen in those books.  So that was interesting to deal with.  It's like I'd forgotten how to handle magic in my time away from fantasy fiction.

As far as characters go, I tended to feel more towards the extreme characters.  Characters like Evie and Vincent were kind of boring because they seemed so perfect... perfect for each other and like they've got their lives more or less in order.  My favorite scenes revolved around Evie's children who were handling things after Evie's death.  They didn't pretend to be perfect, at least.  They had a lot more to deal with than Evie seemed to have to deal with.  I mean, they were being asked to unwind their mother's past in order to understand.  That's got to be extremely difficult when you've just lost your mother.  I don't have that same sympathy for Evie when she chose to marry her husband and not Vincent.  It was just too idyllic for me.  I wasn't wrapped up in their story like I feel like I should have been.

Overall, for a debut novel (because her first book All I Know Now was a nonfiction book), this was okay.  I don't know if this will be one to stay on my bookshelf, but only time will tell.  I do look forward to seeing how Carrie grows as a novelist.

I give 'On The Other Side':
1/2
Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

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