(Pls note this review contains a trigger warning at the bottom. The review itself does not contain a trigger).
Adam somehow got it wrong.
Whilst on holiday, he impulsively proposed to the girl he is madly in love with – only for her to not only turn him down, but insist the relationship ends.
Adam is completely confused, crestfallen and heartbroken. Hadn’t everything been going extremely well – more than well – since they got together a year ago?
But Sarah is adamant that things end between them, despite Adam’s pleas.
Sharing a flat together proves intolerable, but there is still time left on the lease and financial constraints for both mean neither can move out.
Now in separate rooms and Sarah proving to be evasive, Adam tries to move on with his life. However, no matter how hard he tries, his head and his heart are still completely full of Sarah. In a desperate effort to try and understand why their relationship is suddenly and inexplicably over, Adam decides to read Sarah’s diaries. In her more recent additions, he notes that she is still very deeply in love with him, but because of some dark moment in her past, she doesn’t feel she can be with him.
After finding a shoe box full of her teenage diaries, Adam starts to retrace her life from the age of 14.
This book resonated with me due to the fact that I am a prolific diarist. I have kept a diary from when I was a kid to the present day. I don’t write in it every day, sometimes months can elapse without an entry, but I always seem to find my way back to my diary.
Reading Sarah’s entries from being a teenager was an acute blast from the past for me. I could empathise. Talking about hating her mother’s new partner, her relationship with her sibling and falling for a boy are all things that remind me of entries in my own diaries.
In fact, it is spookily the same times and dates as my own diary entries about very similar things.
I was 15 when I began seeing my first boyfriend and I remember excitedly scribbling down in my own diaries from October 1998 how amazing this guy was and how I thought he was the best looking lad in the world and how in love I was. Being giddy about holding hands and the first kiss – all entries in my diary too.
Of course, like Sarah, I eventually figured out that the guy of my dreams was anything but.
I cannot help but admire author Natalie K Martin’s ability to capture the voice of a teenaged girl going through such things, so accurately. It isn’t easy trying to get that exact voice right and I think she did it marvellously.
I often found myself reading the bits between the diary entries as quick as I could so I could get back to them.
I also wanted to figure out what this thing in Sarah’s past was, that meant two people who clearly and deeply love each other are being held apart.
I won’t say, obviously, what the secret is, but you can understand in the end why Sarah had been so affected by it.
We only get to hear Sarah’s point of view through her diary entries, otherwise, we simply see her through Adam’s pained eyes. In that respect, she is not terribly well developed and the reader is left a bit confused about why she is so vehemently hostile towards her family, who clearly love her, now that she is a grown woman.
Adam isn’t the most complexed character to get to know and he is the more developed out of the two main characters.
This isn’t a complicated or difficult read and not the best debut novel from an author I have ever read, however, it is a great start and I know Natalie K Martin has authored several books since the publication of this one. Certainly an author to watch.
From other reviews I have read, people either find this novel incredibly gripping and cannot put it down and others are much less impressed. I suppose it is down to the individual reader.
Do they get their happily ever after? I guess you’ll just have to read it and see.
TRIGGER WARNING: This novel contains the stillbirth of a premature baby.
As a SANDS mother, it is my duty to issue ‘trigger warnings’ when reviewing novels that contain the death of a baby.