Blurb from Goodreads
A moving and page-turning love story perfect for fans of Roxie Cooper, Josie Silver and Isabelle Broom.
Daniel and Erica
From the moment they meet their worlds are changed forever. They know that fate has led them to each other.
Daniel knows Erica is special, but he doesn’t quite understand how special she is. Because Erica has a unique gift: an ability to slip between worlds and observe a life she’s never lived, made up of all the paths she didn’t take.
But just as their lives seem perfect, tragedy strikes.
Erica’s gift offers them hope – a chance to re-do their lives. But going back comes with risks.
What if Erica can’t find Daniel again? What if their paths were never meant to cross?
What if going back means Erica has to give up all the happiness – and pain – of today?
What if you got the chance to live another life…would you take it?
‘The Start of Us’ is an unusual book. It is pitched as a romantic story for fans of Josie Silver which is why I took a punt on it and requested it from NetGalley.
The premise is that the main character of Erica experiences what can best be described as time travelling moments… moments where she disappears from her own life for minutes, hours or even days and becomes a sort of passenger to moments from her personal history e.g. as a child she finds herself viewing her parents meeting at a party. Erica isn’t able to interact with these moments. She can’t control when they happen but over the years she has found that if she is always in company then she doesn’t disappear to this otherworldly experience.
The book opens with the breakdown of Erica’s relationship with boyfriend Mike and her meeting Daniel who she soon begins a romantic relationship with. Erica begins to see that she was never her true self with Mike and with Daniel is able to fully be herself even revealing to him all about her time travelling abilities.
As the story develops Erica learns more about these abilities and realises that they are no longer glimpses of a past life but actually of an alternative life and this causes much tumult as Erica tries to figure out if in fact she should be living this other life or the life she has with Daniel which has been marred with much grief and sorrow.
What I loved about this book was the exploration of how individual events in our lives shape and change us, and investigating what would happen to us if we didn’t experience tragedy and loss. Would our lives be happier or would there be an emptiness. There’s a lot in this book to pick apart; a lot to provoke much contemplation about our own personal histories and how they have made us the people we are.
However, I think the initial romantic plot line between Erica and Daniel let’s this book down a little bit. I felt their emotional connection was underdeveloped and that as a reader I found Daniel to be written in rather a bland style. For a book that relied so heavily on the romantic relationship between Erica and Daniel I needed to feel more romance. More of a reason to root for them to be together.
In my opinion more effort was required to have made Daniel feel as real a character as Erica was. In fact every supporting character all felt somewhat underdeveloped. There needed to be more time taken to creating unique personalities for all the characters I feel as to me the only character that was truly memorable was Erica herself.
I also felt the pacing of the book was somewhat off as the narrative to me was a little incoherent in places. Sometimes months would flash by in the space of a paragraph whereas at other times single days would be explored to exhaustion. Overall I felt the book dragged on too much and would have preferred some snappier editing and perhaps a few sub-headings to help highlight the passage of time.
Overall this was an interesting read and I am pleased I read it. I think the author, Hannah Emery, has a lot of great ideas when it comes to crafting a novel and would definitely read something written by them again.
I would recommend this to readers who want to read a deeply emotional novel with an overriding romantic theme as there are a lot of moments in this novel that are very tear inducing. The book reminded me of the film ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ (I have not yet the book of the same name) and if you enjoyed that then I think you would quite like this too.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Publishing: 31 July 2020, One More Chapter