Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Blog Tour: But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure - Review and Author Q&A

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

Publishing Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 320
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Eden: As far as coma patients go, Eden's lucky. She woke up. But still, she can't shake the feeling that she might have dragged something back from the near-afterlife. Joe: Joe visits the hospital every day, hoping that Jaz, his lifelong friend, will wake up. More than anything, he wants to hear her voice again. But he's not sure anyone can reach her. Eden & Joe: Even though she knows it sounds crazy, Eden tells Joe that they might be able to talk to Jaz. Opening themselves up to the great unknown-and each other-Eden and Joe experience life: mysterious and scary, beautiful and bright" (HMH).

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read that this book would be similar to Gayle Forman's If I Stay (a book I really enjoyed and reviewed here!), I was really intrigued. The greatest thing about this book was that I instantly liked Eden. She is like the perfect YA novel protagonist. There's vulnerability (due to her near-death experience and coma of course) but also a kind of honesty that is quite refreshing. I liked when she first meets Joe and Jaz, she names them in her head and gives them a sort of narrative. I feel like a lot of us do that prior to really meeting someone. As their relationship blossoms and she moves into Joe's world, I really liked how she came to handle things like her relationship with her twin, Digby, her best friend, Lucille, and her parents. Eden was in a coma for such a long time and when she finally woke up, there was a lot of adjusting. She spoke of the "In Between" and a lot of the people around her, although incredibly supportive, were also dealing with the aftermath of what happened. The moment in the book when she kind of "reconnects" with her mom really tugged at my heartstrings. I don't want to say much without spoiling what happens in the book, but this book gave me a lot to think about. I mean, I already have thought about what happens after death. We have all speculated at one time or another. Is it someplace better or is it simply a void? Or do we simply restart? There are some accounts in the novel which was a nice touch and I really enjoyed all the quotes throughout. But at the end of the day, we simply don't know what comes after and this existence of the whole "In Between." I also really liked that the book swayed around from the typical narrative of "I-had-a-near-death-experience-so-now-I-will-live-recklessly" - it was more so Eden coming to terms of what happened and reintegrating to the way her life is now. It felt realistic and raw and I really appreciated that every character had depth, regardless of their role to play in Eden's story (the nurses: Rita and Sally & Madame). There is a strong emphasis on family, friendship, and love, but also touches on thoughts on the afterlife, and grief. I really enjoyed Laure's writing style and I've already downloaded her first novel This Raging Light to read on my upcoming trip ;)

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Question and Answer

1. Which part of the text was most difficult for you to write?
Is “all of it” an acceptable answer? I think it’s really true what they say about the second book. You know how the rabbits in Watership Down go tharn in the face of danger? That was me for quite a while, and ironically it was because I was trying to skirt the subject matter. Writing about life and death and choices on that level was both exhilarating and daunting and I think putting forth some sort of an afterlife hypothesis was the most challenging. Also, because the coma patients I spoke to talked about their confusion in the first days waking up, that was tough from first person. I didn’t want to exhaust my audience with a fractured reality. But really, all of it.
Thank you so much, Estelle, for taking the time to answer my question and other blogger's questions. I can definitely see how "all of it" would be difficult considering the subject matter. I also find it incredibly fascinating and amazing that you spoke to coma patients to configure Eden's experience of waking up after a coma. Thanks again for participating! I can't wait to pick up your other novel ;) 

Be sure to stop by the other stops on the blog tour and show my fellow blogger friends some love!
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own. 

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