Sunday, 25 May 2014

Review: Then and Always by Dani Atkins

The Premise: This book follows the events of Rachel Wiltshire, a young girl with a close group of friends and a great boyfriend, who is about to begin her college career in a journalism program. Unfortunately, on one simple night out at a restaurant with the entire group, an accident happens which lands Rachel in the hospital and ends the life a very close of friend. Five years from that tragic event, unfortunately the life she could have had with so much promise, does not work out that way. She is still suffering and dealing with the events of that tragic event, become estranged from her friends and did not end up pursuing a career in journalism. On one night, she ventures out to the grave of that friend, and she has a fall. When she wakes up, everything is turned upside down and the life she could have had, turns out to be the one she has woken up to. Rachel has woken up to a healthy father, the great boyfriend turned fiancee, a career in journalism and most of all, the one friend that passed, is now alive before her. She attempts to piece all of the events together and tries to make sense of what is real and what isn't real.

My overall thoughts and review: The premise of the novel really intrigued me and reminded me of the movie The Vow; how when the protagonist wakes from an accident, the life they thought they knew isn't really the life that they are experiencing. The novel does jump forward and backwards in time but Atkins is really clear so there is no confusion. It was really interesting to try and decipher, which world is real, what events really happened, what didn't and just piece together everything. It felt like you were experiencing everything vicariously through Rachel very well, because Atkins was really detailed in explaining things. I loved all of the characters so very much, even the ones that were tremendously flawed. Atkins made characters that were super relatable and I am sure any reader could find an equivalent to in their real life: the caring parent, the best-friend like Sarah, the boyfriend like Matt, and the best-friend who happened to be a boy, Jimmy. I just loved how there was two perspectives to every character, the one in the first world, and the second one. It just made everything way more intriguing and complex and multi-dimensional. The story overall was very sweet and romantic, and spoke to second chances and how significant they are. It was quite haunting and really, just bittersweet. I loved reading about Rachel, Matt and Jimmy and seeing how everything unfolded. I will say, I did not see the ending coming there and when it came, I was honestly gobsmacked. I couldn't believe it, but I am glad that Atkins took that route, because it is quite refreshing and unlike any other narrative that deals with reality/dream type narratives. I will say however, this book does not get the complete perfect rating from me, because I just found the lead up to the end was quite rushed, time jumped quite quickly in the last twenty pages for me, and I just honestly wish it slowed down a little. But all in all, it was an extremely enjoyable read. I love women's fictional contemporary and this one is a great example of that genre, and more importantly, it is a stand out, because it is unlike any typical one I have read, it is quite haunting and I think that is what I enjoyed most about it. I definitely recommend giving this a read! :) (Also, can I just say.. I love the cover so much!)

Rating of the book: 4.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me from Penguin Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 


  1. I enjoyed this story :)