Original Release Date:
January 26, 2016
Date I Read The Book:
My Star Rating:
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
My Review: (Vague Spoilers)
This book has it all: complex characters with intricate motivations, life lessons, time travel, love, life, diversity, mental illness, and identity crisises.
The book has two main points: Natalie is trying to find her way in the world, as an adopted native american child who has struggled with hallucinations since childhood. And, Natalie who can see a parallel universe, where she meets Beau. Beau doesn’t exist in her universe, and she doesn’t exist in his. Two parallel worlds occupying the same space.
We follow Natalie as she recalls the stories “grandmother” (a mystical being thought to be a hallucination) told her as a child, as she tries to head grandmother’s final warning: Natalie has three months to save “him”, whoever “him” is.
Natalie heritage is central to the story of belonging and love and feeling unwanted, will not being entirely about it. It is well explained, and handled with grace, at least in my perspective. Her adoptive family, younger twin siblings included, are amazing.
Every minor character is well fleshed out with their own roles to play when not caught in Natalie’s orbit, or Beau’s when it comes to their parallel selves. As Natalie’s tries to save whoever needs saving, takes to a psychologist, and tries to figure out her past so she can find her future, she relies on her friends, and deals with an ex-boyfriend who still loves her. All while trying to control these newly discovered powers with Beau. I liked how everything was explained as science, even if it was un-understood science, it was never magic, and Natalie was never a chosen one, simply a lucky one.
It is a difficult book to explain without spoiling, but I’d say it is more a contemporary with Sci-fi elements than the other way around. The heritage, the past, the alternate realities, and the different religions are all handled with grace, and everyone of Grandmother’s stories had meaning, even when you didn’t realize it.
You learn things as Natalie does, about acceptance and the way of the world. I certainly didn’t see end coming but it was thoroughly enjoyable. My only problem was the pacing in the beginning, it was slow, like the book couldn’t decide where it was going or what it wanted to convey until halfway through, when we really started to see a lot of Beau.
The writing was never confusing, though we were kept in the dark about all the things Natalie was, which kept the mystery alive. The writing for Grandmother’s stories was beautiful and were the reason I stuck around to finish despite the slow beginning.
In all, I think its well worth the read, and if the mostly non-coherent mess of a review makes it sound appealing, I’d say read it, because it was thoroughly enjoyable.
“Rachel,” I snap, “I don’t care if Janelle wants to work at Hooters. I don’t care if you and the rest of the world want to go spend your money on dried-out chicken and ketchup-based sauces. And least of all—less than almost anything else I can imagine—I don’t care how much sex your sister is or isn’t having. That’s kind of the deal with the whole uptight feminazi thing—we don’t care when other women want to wear stupid orange Soffe shorts with white tennis shoes and have a lot of sex, or when they want to wear habits and live in a convent, or if they want to walk around in pasties and never French kiss, so long as they’re allowed to do what they want. And right now, all I want is to go to bed. Okay?”
― Emily Henry,
“She may be a bitch, but she’s a genuine bitch with a heart”
― Emily Henry,