Monday, June 2, 2014

6 Heart Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran + Giveaway! (US only)

The Last Time I Saw You
Eleanor Moran

Page Count: 504

Release Date: April 22nd 2014 (second edition)
Publisher: Quercus
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Wunderkind!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

When Olivia Berrington gets the call to tell her that her best friend from university has been killed in a car crash in New York, her life is turned upside down. Her relationship with Sally was an exhilarating roller coaster, until a shocking betrayal drove them apart. But if Sally really had turned her back, why is her little girl named after Olivia?

As questions mount about the fatal accident, Olivia is forced to go back and unravel their tangled history. But as Sally’s secrets start to spill out, Olivia’s left asking herself if the past is best kept buried.
"Yeah, it [looks amazing]," I said, dropping my bag and drinking [the flat] in ... "But how are we going to afford–"
[Sally] waved an airy hand.
"Don't worry about it, you can pay me back. Now get some glasses my friend, Mr. Bubbles is in the fridge."

And there you had it: whichever way you looked at it, she owned me. Perhaps it was the way I liked it.

Languidly passing through her thirties, Livvy Berrington thinks her life is pretty ordinary with a job she hates, a best friend/flatmate she's desperately, one-sidedly smitten with, and absolutely no love prospects—until she receives a call that her former best friend, Sally Atkins, has been killed.

Sally's death is at first shocking, then increasingly somber as Livvy reveals—through a series of extended flashbacks that lead up to the explosive cause to the end of the brightly burning friendship—just what kind of relationship the two girls had in college. As Livvy learns to cope with losing her best friend she hasn't spoken to in decades, she becomes entangled in an unexpected, unfathomable relationship that arises from the ashes tragedy. Her grief is intertwined with  intense, wild stories from her university years, the years that have caused her so much regret, loss, and heartbreak.

While Livvy's reflections of her early twenties are evocative and induce school-age nostalgia, the story itself is banal and way too linear. I found the book unnecessarily wordy at a whopping 504 pages; it contains lots of pointless action and inner dialogue the story could have done without. The lack of structure and actual point to the story made it a bit difficult to read, and the painfully predictable climax and conclusion did nothing to impress me either.

Livvy is a fickle character, and although it's easy to sympathize with her, it's also very easy to find her very pathetic. There were just some moments I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. While her first-person narration is stylistically rather elementary, Livvy does have her moments of beautiful, introspective reflection. The only reason I enjoyed her perspective is because of her contemplative thoughts on human connections and coping.

Pros


Easy to read // Reflects on the meaning of friendship // Wonderfully nostalgic // Olivia is a deep, observant thinker

Cons


Slowly and irregularly paced // Messy, unmemorable plot // Most characters are insignificant and dislikable (I only really liked Jules, Olivia's sister) // Livvy is a weak character and narrator // Seems to drag on forever

Love

Do the people we love always remain part of us, even when they've absented themselves from our lives? I like to think that they do—that anyone we truly love changes some part of us forever, like waves pounding against a cliff until its shape is indelibly altered. Or is that no more than wishful thinking, a futile attempt to dodge the reality that however much you love a person, you can never guarantee they won't get ripped away from you? There are only two letters separating love from loss—the first always contains the threat of the second.

Verdict


Eleanor Moran's most recent novel didn't sweep me away, but it was still an enjoyable story about the value of girl friends and the magic of hope-filled youth. I was mostly disappointed that the big mystery enshrouding Sally's "dark" secrets was calculable and unoriginal, but did appreciate how The Last Time I Saw You probingly explores the tendency we humans have for forever remembering those we have once loved Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished print copy of The Last Time I Saw You
—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
When's the last time you saw a best friend? What did you guys do together? It doesn't  necessarily have to be your current best best friend; maybe instead a best friend from work or a best friend from the past, like in Olivia's case.
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to Wunderkind!
Giveaway ends June 16th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently-running giveaways that are open internationally.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!