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Is there ever a right time to fall in love? Nick and Anna have had so many chances to cement a serious relationship but life keeps getting in the way. One unforgettable summer is all it takes to spark a love story that will unfold over the course of their lives. Another Life explores the missed opportunities, the undeniable chemistry and the regrets that can come with young love. When the pair go their separate ways to seek out their futures, Nick is sure their paths will never cross again but your first, true love never leaves you.
Nick is the narrator of this story and I enjoyed the refreshing take on the boy meets girl narrative as we so often hear from the girl’s point of view. The story opens in New York and in a matter of pages, we are tumbling into a pit of grief alongside Nick. I was instantly gripped by the emotional events unfolding and as the story progresses, we learn more of the intense grief Nick has suffered. I think because I’ve been through a similar kind of grief to Nick, I was able to identify with his character that bit more and Jodie Chapman hit the nail on the head with the emotional rollercoaster that grief takes you on.
Much of Nick’s story is told through his childhood memories which was an unexpected but lovely touch. He details the strong relationship he has with his brother, Sal, who features heavily in this book and in particular, his mum. Nearly had a little cry because it reminded me of my own memories growing up. I loved how incredibly realistic it all felt and swapping between past and present really helped me to understand Nick and his relationship with Anna.
Anna’s back story is less documented and only seen through the eyes of Nick. Anna’s religious upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness has stopped her from pursuing many romantic relationships and Nick respects a side of her life she’s reluctant to discuss. Anna is falling for Nick and is wavering over whether she really belongs to her community but she’s afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Another Life was the changing of the tone and language used depending on the time period in each chapter. Chapters about the young Nick and Anna have a young adult feel to the writing whereas chapters about the characters as adults use more complex language to reflect how they’ve grown up.
Another Life is a stellar debut and Chapman not only manages to weave incredibly poignant themes into the lives of two very strong protagonists’ but she plays with the notion of having ‘another life’ in a multitude of clever ways. You’ll have to read it to find out what I mean. For fans of David Nicholls and Jojo Moyes, this book will crush your heart again and again but you won’t stop rooting for Nick and Anna to get the happy ending they deserve.
Thank you so much to Michael Joseph Books and Penguin for the gifted copy as part of the Another Life blog tour. Another Life is released on Thursday 1 April and you can see more reviews from other book reviewers below.