source: free review copy via AmazonVine
title: Then and Always
author: Dani Atkins
published: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (May 20, 2014)
first line: My first life ended at 10:37 p.m. on a rainy December night, on a deserted street beside the old church.
rated: 4 out of 5
For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers.
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.
One evening while out to dinner with friends, Rachel Wiltshire’s life is changed forever. A car crashes into the front windows of the restaurant and Rachel is lucky to be alive but her close friend Jimmy perishes while saving her life. From this day forward Rachel lives with scars both seen and unseen, as she suffers from post traumatic stress. She moves out of town, breaks up with her beau Matt and tries to move on as best as she can. Fast forward to five years when she is called back home for the wedding of one of her close friends.
When she arrives back home and is reunited with her old flame Matt and her friends, an accident leaves her in the hospital unconscious. When she awakens, she finds herself in an entirely alternate life. Jimmy is still alive, she is engaged to Matt and she has the career she always wanted. The problem is Rachel wonders where her old life went and how this new perfect life can possibly be real. As she tries to put together the pieces of the puzzle, she questions her sanity. As clues are revealed, more questions arise as to what happened to Rachel’s life. Is she just suffering amnesia? Is she having a mental breakdown?
Despite its slow start, Then and Always drew me in. This plot driven novel had me wondering plenty. I guessed until the end because I really had no clue as to what was real or not. I wondered right alongside Rachel.
As I read, I rooted for Jimmy and wanted Rachel’s final reality to include him. He dies for her at the start for crying out loud, how could she not choose him? Like I mentioned, the novel has a slow start, but once the momentum gets going, I could not put this one down. There were so many sweet scenes and so much tension between Rachel and Jimmy and I eagerly awaited for what would happen next.
A ‘thank you’ to author Dani Atkins, I was totally surprised with the ending and I shed a tear.
“Maybe it wasn’t just in fairy tales that the prince’s kiss could bring the sleeping princess back to life.”
p.183, Then and Always by Dani Atkins
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my free review copy of Then and Always by Dani Atkins via AmazonVine.