Friday, March 31, 2017

strictly literary: but then i came back by estelle laure

eden jones doesn't know where she was when she was in a coma. she just knows she wasn't here. she knows she saw her family. she knows that her past was closer to her than ever before. she knows that the other girl in a coma in the hospital ward was there too. and she knows that jasmine is trying to tell her something.

but then i came back is about eden's recovery. it's about how trauma changes you. it's about how one thing can change everything about you, except it can't change who you really are. she's experienced something so outside of anyone's realm of understanding. her friends, her family, they are trying, but she can't help but feel closest to jasmine, the girl still in a coma and joe the guy who holds her fate in his hands.

the book opens with eden's accident. an out of body experience told in the second person. and then we are in the during, as she comes back and figures out how to start living again. the hardest thing is figuring out her relationship with her twin brother. she's lived through something she can't share with him and in the time she was in a coma he found closeness with eden's best friend lucille. so when she does come back the relationship she shared with the two closest people in her life has irrevocably changed.

and so the connection she shares with jasmine, as someone else who has been in the in between place between life and death becomes so important. and the acceptance and understanding she gets from joe lets her feel less crazy and more grounded in the now. something she craves desperately because coming back has left her feeling disconnected, disassociated from herself, from her life. figuring things out with joe, beginning a relationship with joe, opens her back up to feeling, to living.

and inasmuch as there is pain and loss and grief and hurt and anger in this story, there is also a great amount of beauty. sometimes everything must break apart before it can be put back together. but when it does come together, it can be stronger and more beautiful than ever.

**but then i came back will publish on april 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/houghton mifflin harcourt children's book group (hmh books for young readers) in exchange for my honest review.

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