Most reviews and blurbs about this book have nothing but high praise, calling it a 'life-affirming' story that will 'move you to tears'. Cry, I did not. But I enjoyed reading this book, which evokes a sense of optimism and hope, even though its lead character has had quite the tragic childhood.
Melody Browne cannot remember anything before her ninth birthday, because of an accident that burnt her house down and with that, her memories. Several years later, when she is in her thirties, a single mother to her teenage son, an incident at a hypnotist's show during a date turns her life around. Melody starts getting flashes of memories of the time before she was nine and leads her to question even the basic things about herself and her life.
The premise is intriguing, though on paper it isn't as interesting as it sounds. The story is told in alternate chapters of the past and the 'now', which at first is confusing, but you get used to it. It took me 180 pages to get absorbed in the book and feel for the characters. But after that, forget the unrealistic scenarios that prop up aplenty and willingly suspend disbelief, it is an easy, light read. Though a tad too long at 372 pages, the book is a fast read.
Jewell has a way with words and writes so simply, yet evocatively and can conjure images with her writing. Some scenes, especially, were so powerful and emotional. I enjoyed reading the parts where Melody was a child; those parts are written so beautifully, so sensitively, with a lingering touch of innocence that can make your heart break for the poor, unfortunate child. Sample this line:
'Melody's face was more slapdash. Unconventional, according to her mother. Melody wasn't sure she liked the idea of unconventional. Anything with an 'un' in front of it tended to be a bad thing, as far as she could tell.'
The book is by no means perfect. Some things are resolved too conveniently. Some characters, like Melody's boyfriend Ben, seem too good to be true. And after a point, the book rambles and does go meandering and repetitive. Still, it is definitely worth reading if you are in the mood for an emotional book that is well-written.