An unusual and heart-wrenching story about love and the consequences of one’s actions.
My Blurb: In a world where human souls reincarnate into other bodies after death, our main character Daniel has what may be a curse or a gift; he remembers each and every one of his past lives. By this method Ann Brashares takes us on a romantic and historical journey from ancient times until the present.
What is significant for this story is that in his first life, Daniel, in all his “youthful stupidity”, was responsible for the death of a little girl. As each of Daniel’s lives cross with those of Sophie’s, he is inextricably linked with her through his intense desire to make amends.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this novel for a variety of reasons. It is written well; it made me feel deeply; I liked the format which includes type setting differentiation between time settings; I personally relate to reincarnation theory as a belief system; and lastly the author answered all my niggling questions when presenting this paranormal world.
Although I have not read any other books by this author, I have noted that she has an usual style of writing. It flows well yet every once in a while she will come up with a phrase or a sentence which is constructed in an unusual manner. It is reminiscent of Cormack McCarthy’s style from his blockbuster - The Road. Both writers are extremely readable with little bits that appear which are slightly curious and yet extremely powerful.
Even though I was not crazy about the last dramatic scene, which I felt was a bit “cheesy” or contrived, and I am not a huge romance fan, this story sucked me in and made my heart ache. I related to the characters, liked them, and was terrified about the protagonist and the concepts within reincarnation that he represented.
The format of the type setting was helpful in staying clear through the time changes as the text moves back and forth, where the past and the present both have different types of lettering. This made it easy to follow the main character’s view point without getting confused. (I hope that the editors have used this format in the finished copy since mine was a pre-publish edition).
Reincarnation is an interesting concept for me as I enjoy understanding different cultural and social belief systems and because it is in current practice today, lending a realistic link to this fantasy. Most significantly, I also relate to a world view that holds a person responsible for each and every action.
When looking at the book in parallel with others that I have read recently on transmigration, my thought is that the guidelines presented in the book are based upon the actual precepts dating back to prehistory. I am not going to spoil them here, but as mentioned above some are extremely frightening.
When reading the book I had many questions about the reincarnation theory the author presented; I was thinking “how is she going to explain that?“ It is highly commendable that Brashares answered them all. An example of several of my questions are - where do the souls of animals go after death? What about changing sexes - how does that work? And what happens between lives? Very interesting indeed.
I’d recommend this novel if you like romantic paranormal stories and are interested in reincarnation, if you enjoy stories about true love, if you enjoy ancient historical information included within a novel, or if you like experiencing some very intense and deep emotions when reading. Now the best for last - If you like mind-bending endings then you will really enjoy this book. I do have to say that the ending is a real shocker. I liked it, although some readers may not agree.
I give this book 4 stars; I am looking forward to the next two in the series.