Young, Louisa. Twelve Months and a Day. Penguin Putnam, 2023. ISBN 9780593542651. $17.00
More of a narrative with romantic elements, Twelve Months and a Day tells the story of two recently widowed people — and their recently deceased partners, who come together in their confusion and sorrow and develop friendships. The living one between musician Rasmas and videographer Roisin is gently and strategically nudged along by the ghostly Nico and Jay, whose presences are felt so strongly because they are literally still there, calling on help when Rasmas falls into a depressive episode, holding Roisin close in bed as she grieves. As someone open to the idea of spirit lingering, I completely bought into life after death as Young presented it.
The writing is so gorgeous–evocative, emotional, sensory. The pacing is slow in a deliberate and unhurried sense, giving plenty of space for character and plot to develop. Roisin and Rasmas share their thoughts and lives in ways they have not been able to in grief groups or with friends, mostly through email. When Rasmas makes a comeback with his band to share music he wrote for Jay, it is Roisin who is hired to be the interviewer and then documentarian.
There are few surprises but this is a highly compelling story. Fans of Josie Silver will devour this beautiful and poignant tale of what happens to love after loss, and rejoice in how love changes and goes on and clears the way for future love.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #TwelveMonthsAndADay from #NetGalley.
Thao, Dustin. You’ve Reached Sam. Wednesday Books, 2021. ISBN 978-1250762030 340 pp. $18.99
On the precipice of graduation, Julie and Sam can’t wait to go away to college, get an apartment, and live the rest of their lives together. But Sam dies in a tragic accident, leaving Julie behind to cope with her grief and guilt–they had a disagreement before he died. Julie skips the funeral, school, and throws away every memento, and then, in a moment of anguish, calls his cell phone number. Sam ANSWERS.
The universe either magically gives Julie and Sam a way to say goodbye and find the closure they need… OR she is delusional in her grief and created the world she needs to live in to get through. It’s never explained, but it doesn’t matter; I believed that JULIE thought she was connecting, and it was what she needed to move on.
On the surface, Julie comes across as selfish, but the truth is, she’s just a young girl who lost her first love and boyfriend of three years. The path of grieving is different for everyone, and that has to be respected. There are friends (and sadly, teachers!) who don’t seem to understand this.
Something about the characters and their relationship didn’t quite resonate with me. It might be due to the distance;l we only see Sam through Julie’s eyes. Their intimacy is assumed but never really divulged. The epilogue is short sweet and frankly, unnecessary: a young adult novel should end with a sense of a new beginning, even if there is closure around a plot point or character’s development.
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #YouveReachedSam via #NetGalley.
Josie Silver. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird. Ballantine Books, 2020. 369 pp. ISBN 978-0593135235 $26
A laugh-out-loud, tear-jerker modern science fiction novel about magical sleeping pills that help a grieving woman revisit her unexpectedly deceased fiancé and their ongoing life together in her dreams… but at some point she needs to flush those pills down the toilet and move on…. doesn’t she? Lydia’s dreams of Freddie are the technicolor to her grey world.
Silver writes grief with such empathy. There is not a word out of place on the page, and a potential love interest develops slowly.