Published by MadHat Books on May 18th 2016
Buy on Amazon
“Time of death...” the doctor said.
I won’t forget that moment I looked over at Ellie—the paleness of her once rosy cheeks, the blue hue coating her perfect lips—the woman I had been with since we were five years old. My wife. My best friend...and the mother to our newborn baby girl.
You promised me we would be together forever, I wanted to tell her.She gave me her forever, I told myself. Her forever just ended at twenty-five.
“You need to say your goodbyes...” the doctor said.
How do I say goodbye to the one person in my life I could never say goodbye to?
My body is numb, and my heart hurts. Hurts like someone just ripped it out of my chest. Which is ironic ...
“We are going to remove her heart now, Hunter. It was her wish to donate,” the doctor said.
She never told me this.
She never told me another woman would carry on with her beating heart. She never told me this woman knew me but wouldn’t let me know her.
She never told me if I should follow her heart, or if I should follow mine.
She knew. She could have told me...
I’m pretty torn about this book and pretty torn about writing this review because once again I find myself on the unpopular opinion side. Since the moment I read the blurb, I wanted to read it. And for the first 75% or so, I was loving the heck out of the book, then it just tanked for me. I didn’t like the direction it took and although I did like the end result, I can’t get over how it went down. So, I can definitely say that the first 75% were close to a 5 star read, but the last 25% were just a 5, and that’s only cause I loved the last chapter (not the Epilogue, I’ll discuss that further down). Hence why I’m giving this 3 stars. This review might contain a few spoilers so you’re warned.
This is Hunter Cole’s story, the book is entirely in his POV and chronicles his story from falling in love with his wife Ellie, to losing her at childbirth, to raising his little girl, to moving on and possibly falling in love again. Now, I love the concept of the book. I love the idea that you can have more than one great love, that if you ever lose your partner, especially while young, you can have hope that you can find a great person to love and that this person can fill your life with love and that this love can also be great. I love this type of book way more than the cheesy, unrealistic ones where you find “the one”, the person dies and you die young of a broken heart. You know exactly which books I’m talking about. I just don’t think they’re realistic, actually most widowers I know have remarried and I don’t think that made them love their late spouses less, it just made them human. It’s hard to find a book that conveys this idea in a good way, without disrespecting or forgetting the late spouse’s memory, and this book accomplished this for the most part.
Anyway, back to the book. Life has been tough for Hunter, he’s had a pretty rough 5 years, he can’t get over losing his wife and he’s raising his little girl alone. I empathized with Hunter, I could feel his pain and I felt awful for him. In his desire to move on, he moves to a new house, and that’s where he meets Charlotte. Charlotte is wonderful! She’s a divorced software engineer who is also raising her little girl by herself. Charlotte and Hunter strike a friendship that turns into more. Hunter obviously struggles with the idea of moving on because he loved his wife since they were kids. Now, I loved Charlotte and I loved everything about Charlotte and Hunter together from their first interaction. Charlotte was truly remarkable, and she had way more patience for Hunter that I could ever have. I also loved the relationship that was formed between the two little girls and how smart and sassy both were. Hunter’s family was also amazing.
Now for the things I didn’t like. There’s this underlying story going on with this other woman that makes for a very confusing love triangle. You see his wife knew she was dying and didn’t tell Hunter, instead she decided to get pregnant knowing she would probably die giving birth, which she did. The reasons are explained in the book, and I totally understand what she did and why and had no problems with it. She also decides to donate her organs and the woman that got her heart has been sending Hunter letters for five years. One of the problems I had was timing, everything was a huge coincidence after another and everything happened at the same time. While he’s “falling in love” with Charlotte this woman that has his wife’s heart suddenly decides to reveal herself (she had 5 years but she chose this specific moment, give me a break!) and well you can imagine what happens. Poor Charlotte gets the raw end of the deal because not only she has to compete with the ghost of the dead wife, she also has to compete with this woman that has her heart and it’s described as beautiful and ethereal. Hunter does a 180 and becomes this irrational person, he’s enamored with this other woman and suddenly the entire thing gets confusing and the plot goes to hell. Because you know, now he has to “choose” between following “his heart” or “her heart”, meaning his wife’s, ugh. For me it was like reading 2 different books. The fact that this is solely in Hunter’s POV does not help one bit as he sometimes sounds like a bratty teenager and not a 30 year old man. There’s also a lot of assumptions you have to make as a reader because there’s these huge time jumps in which I guess huge milestones like breakups and makeups happen behind the scenes. So it’s even harder to follow or connect with these characters because there’s no scenes of them interacting, sometimes not even a mention of such things happening. There’s also so many huge coincidences that make you think they must live in the smallest town in the world.
I did get my desired outcome but it felt so convenient, rushed and sloppy. One of my biggest peeves, reared its head, the one where the decision is basically made for the main character and well you have to wonder if they’re settling for second best, which I absolutely hate. The last chapter was beautiful though, loved everything about it. And then you get an Epilogue that in my opinion starts great but ends up being misplaced and unnecessary. If the guy has moved on, then why do we need to keep bringing this topic over and over. It’s a good 17 years since his wife died, and he and his daughter conveniently find a last letter that she wrote. It adds nothing that we don’t know before and he has already moved on with his life. It would’ve been way more appropriate a few chapters back before he married Charlotte. It would’ve been so much better if it had stayed in the past with all the other memories. It’s also so OTT and again, so convenient. You know I’m a huge fan of epilogues, but in this case, I truly wished the book would’ve ended with the last chapter.
Anyways, I can’t say I loved this book but also I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed most of it. The writing is great for the most part. Like I said, the concept is great, I love the idea that you can move on without disrespecting your late spouse’s memory, but I just feel like the execution was poor from 75% on. I wanted to absolutely love this one so I feel a little disappointed by it.
“Life is like the center of a blooming flower with each petal lifting over time, slowly exposing our hearts and souls as the motion of life circles around us. I can’t change it and I can’t stop it but I can watch and take in the beauty of it all. I definitely took the road less traveled, and my God, has it made all the difference.”
**An ARC was generously provided in exchange for an honest review**