Title: Then and Always
Author: Dani Atkins
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Publication date: May 20, 2014
Genre(s): Chick Lit
I got into Then and Always thinking this will be a cute chick lit.. yea the synopsis hints at some sadness but I am used to chick lits being fluffy but oh boy, this is anything but fluff. There was a lot of crying.. just a heads up. Then and Always was very emotional and confusing in terms of how the book and story was told. I'll get more into the details below but overall it was a good book and the ending is the most memorable and emotional part of the book for me.
The story begins with Rachel, along with her boyfriend and a couple of her friends going to eat dinner one last time together before they all start heading off to their first year of college and following their paths. That night, something tragic happens that Rachel can't get back from. It literally had me taking a break because of the crying. I needed to breathe in and out and learn to relax so I can get back to reading. When I do, It is forwarded a couple of years later, Rachel still suffering from the aftermath of that one tragic night, however she goes back to her hometown for the first time since that night but again, this girl is unlucky, she has an accident (i'm being vague, it isn't car related) and ends up in the hospital. But.. wait for it, in the next chapter, it is Rachel living her life as if that tragic night never happened.. and she's also going back to her hometown but something happens that, again, makes her end up in the hospital.. this is when these two parallel timelines merge.. Rachel wakes up and she's the Rachel of the world where the tragic night happens.. but she wakes up in the world where the tragic night didn't happen. Did I lose anyone? I know I lost myself halfway through this paragraph and had to consult my copy!
So yes, book starts there, and the story continues.. I kept praying that maybe the world with the tragic night was a nightmare all along, or there are some supernatural elements in this book that allows her to choose her world, but alas, that is not it. It is much more complicated, much more heartbreaking, much more infuriating. I hate not knowing, I also found myself skimming through paragraphs because I felt there are a ton of unnecessary tiny plot lines that I couldn't care less about and the glaring plot line, the one I need the answer to is hidden from view. I liked Rachel, I especially liked her dad as well as her best friend, though I wished we got more of her. I can't say I wasn't frustrated with Rachel, especially in the end.. I was crying and just silently yelling at her for making this decision (yes i'm being secretive).. basically, pick it up if you want a unique chick lit, one that isn't all about fluff. It is short and bittersweet. I will definitely check out more books by Dani Atkins in the future.