Monday, 24 February 2014

REVIEW: Jemma Forte - If You're Not The One

“Has she married the wrong man? Jennifer Wright has a seemingly perfect life – a husband, two kids, a lovely house. But she’s not happy. Frustrated with her lack of career, competitive mums and a husband who barely seems to notice her anymore, she can’t help but wonder what her life would be like had she made different choices and ended up with a different man. When she gets knocked down by a car and falls into a coma, she gets to see what her alternative lives could have been. Will it make her thankful for what she’s got, or give her the courage to walk away?”

In ‘If You’re Not The One’ we follow the life (well, lives) of Jennifer Wright. We’re introduced to Jennifer running from her husband in tears in a particularly daring outfit, shall we say? It’s here the troubles between her and her husband are hinted at, if not immediately made clear. Then everything goes wrong – she’s knocked down by a car and, although there’s a few brief glimpses of reality, sadly Jennifer ends up in a coma.

The story is told in parts – set in previous times and the present (although not really present) day – and so after learning about Jennifer’s accident, we’re taken back a week to find out what led to the accident. It seems that her relationship wasn’t as rosy as all her friends believed and Jennifer had been questioning things for a while. In questioning things, she often thought about her ex’s and the dreaded ‘what if’… ‘What if’ she stayed with them? ‘What if’ she’d never gone to that party? We’ve all been there, at least I know I have, but Jennifer gets the chance to find out, thanks to her coma.

Whilst in the coma, Jennifer can see three doors. Behind each door is a different ex and a different opportunity to have a look at what her life would be like now if she’d chosen a different path and stuck with each one of them. The results aren’t exactly as she, or I, thought they would be. We’re slowly introduced to each ex and through their descriptions, we imagine what their (Jennifer and the ex’s) life would have been like.

Jennifer can only visit each tunnel a select number of times and she doesn’t appear to have too much control as to which one she visits and when. This helps to gives something for the reader to relate to as we can’t control such thoughts in our conscious state.

The characters in the story are well-written and, as there’s only a few to focus on, you feel like you get to know them really well – even if they do change from scenario to scenario, albeit only slightly. I like the fact that it touched upon more than just the partner relationships – it touched upon friendships and the relationships between parent and child. It also didn’t represent a relationship that was perfect which is something I thoroughly enjoyed as all too often relationships in books appear to be far better than they could probably ever be in real life.

The fact that you could relate to the characters in a way that made them (mainly Jennifer) feel like a friend meant that I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know what more was behind each door and how each story (possibly life) was going to end. More than that, though, I wanted to know whether Jennifer would recover and, if so, whether she’d ever be happy with her life again. The answer shocked me, if I’m honest. It’s not quite the happy ending I wanted, take from that what you will, given how the story started.

One thing I didn’t like at times was how the period in which we were reading about kept changing. I don’t mean one minute it was the 50s and the next it was in the future. I mean that one moment I was reading about a week before the accident and then suddenly I was in the coma set in the present day. I understand that it helps to understand the state of mind that Jennifer herself would have been in but I found it hard to keep up with at times. Maybe that’s just me though – let me know!

I really enjoyed reading this book – the characters were introduced well and fleshed out, as were the individual stories that occurred within the overall plot. I liked that it didn’t end how I thought it would – there’s nothing better than assuming you know exactly how a book’s going to end, only to be surprised. The fact that the book is based around an unhappy relationship that might never be happy again makes a change from your average women’s fiction story and for that I couldn’t recommend it enough. 

*received copy from NetGalley*