“Most of life’s defining moments happen unexpectedly; sometimes they slide past you completely unnoticed until afterwards, if at all. The last time your child is small enough to carry on your hip. An eye-roll exchanged with a stranger who becomes your life-long best friend. The summer job you apply for on impulse and stay for the next twenty years. That kind of things. So I’m completely unaware that on of my definining moments is passing me by when my mobile rings at 6.47pm on 14th March 2018; instead, I curse under my breath because I’ve got a Velcro roller stuck in my hair and I’m already running late.“
Thank you to Viking for an advance copy of this one for the blog tour!
Oh, how I loved this story. I enjoyed ‘One Day in December’ but this was a wholly different experience. It was heartbreaking, yet hopeful. A true reflection of the bittersweet feelings that a lot of people deal with through grief.
‘The Two Lives of Lydia Bird’ follows Lydia Bird, who, on her 27th birthday, loses her fiance, Freddie, in a car accident. Told through alternating chapters, switching between Lydia ‘awake’ in the real world, dealing with grief, and Lydia ‘asleep’, living in an alternate existence where Freddie never died and where everything seems perfect. Throughout the novel, we learn more about Lydia and her family and friends and follow her on her journey to discover which world she really belongs to.
“Grief is an odd thing. It’s mine and no one can do it for me, but there’s been this whole supporting cast of silent actors around me in the wings.”
Things I loved:
- For me, it was an excellent depiction of grief. It felt real. Nothing too dramatic, or too out of place. It discussed the moments in between the big events, and the little things that you don’t want to remember but can’t bring yourself to forget.
- The book is split into alternating ‘awake’ and ‘asleep’ chapters. In order to sleep better after losing Freddie, Lydia begins to take sleeping pills. These pills open a backdoor into a world with Freddie, where she can live as if he had never passed away. This kind of layout of the book made it feel like a quicker read – it definitely didn’t feel like 400 pages – and allowed us to see a glimpse into Lydia and Freddie’s relationship.
- The romance was minimal – I don’t read a lot of romance and I really enjoyed that this character had other things going on. Aside from the ‘asleep’ chapters, which were pretty romance heavy, there wasn’t too much of a focus on this in the ‘awake’ ones.
- The idea that not every story needs to have a happy ending. Although arguably, this one does, I liked the ideas introduced towards the end about a hopeful ending vs a happy ending vs a realistic ending. I also appreciated that although Lydia’s character was growing and evolving, her grief and Freddie’s death was always at the forefront somehow. It wasn’t just used as a plot device.
“You don’t get over losing someone you love in six months or two years or twenty, but you do have to find a way to carry on living without feeling as if everything that comes afterwards is second best. Some people walk up mountains, others throw themselves out of planes. Everyone has to find their own way back, and if they’re lucky, they’ll have people who love them to hold their hand.”
Things to Note:
- I wouldn’t really categorise this as a romance. Although there are romantic elements (through a range of different characters), I would say the main plot is Lydia’s journey of grief and rediscovering herself.
Overall, I would really recommend this one to people who enjoy stories that are on the sadder side but also really focus on the idea of rediscovery, hope, and almost re-coming-of-age.
Thank you to Viking and Penguin for an advance copy of this one to review.
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See the other blog tour reviews for ‘The Two Lives of Lydia Bird’ below: