Life after Life by Kate Atkinson – Book Review

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Published by Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Hachette

It is 1910 and one of the snowiest nights in memory in England when Ursula Todd is born. Unfortunately, little Ursula is not long for this world, dying almost before her mother even realizes she has been born. Luckily for Ursula, she is born again, the same day to the same family, and this time with another result. So Ursula is born time and time again, as she succumbs to the perils of early 20th-cenutry life but is repeatedly granted another chance, as if her life is building towards some grand purpose.

So, basically Life After Life is brilliant. It isn’t immediately apparent, especially as the child Ursula dies repeatedly. The first hundred pages or so can be difficult for parents, as it almost seems a catalog of everything bad that can happen to a kid. It is when the Spanish Flu hits Ursula’s household that Atkinson’s dark comic genius shines through. It is also at this time that the reader realizes that Ursula is semi-aware of what is happening to her. From that point forward, Ursula dies with a little less frequency and the intricacies of cause and effect are writ large on her life.

To call Life After Life an absorbing book would be to undersell it. It is an astonishingly good novel, one I could not stop talking about during and after reading it. It is also an innovative look at the way our choices – as well as events beyond our control – shape our lives, and how the smallest change can make a huge difference.

Life After Life is the book that everyone is going to be talking about for the rest of the year, and it absolutely deserves that honor. Very highly recommended.

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Powells | Indiebound*

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My Name is Memory by Anne Brashares – Book Review

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

Lucy feels a strange connection to the mysterious Daniel, a young man who joined her high school class for their senior year. Daniel completely ignores her, though, no matter what she does. Until the end of the school year, when Lucy and Daniel find themselves alone together in a classroom, where he starts talking about remembering something and calling Lucy Sophia.

Although it seems that he has been ignoring her, Daniel thinks about almost nothing besides Lucy. Not only does he think about her, he remembers her. He remembers the first time he saw her, thousands of years ago, and every time they’ve come in contact in the years and lives since then. Daniel is one of the rare people who actually remembers what has come before from life to life. Not only that, but he has the ability to recognize other souls from body to body, which is how he knows the soul which is now Lucy throughout the millennia.

“My Name is Memory” is the first in a new trilogy from Ann Brashares. I have to say, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with the first book in trilogies lately. ¬†This one followed much the same pattern. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good book. Daniel and Lucy are both complex and compelling characters, and the plot is very inventive and kept me interested. It is just that the first half of the book is a bit of a slow start. This really isn’t surprising, since it is setting up three books worth of plot.¬†Towards the end of the book, though, the pace really picks up. By the end of the book, I couldn’t wait until the next book in the series comes out. I will be reading the rest of this trilogy, without question; I cannot wait to see where Brashares takes Daniel and Lucy’s story.

Recommended, but be warned that it starts off a bit slow – it is worth it, though!

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
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Amazon
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This review was done with a book received from Lydia at Penguin.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.