Book review: Then and Always by Dani Atkins

Then and Always by Dani AtkinsPublisher: Random House, Ballantine Books

Pages: 320

ISBN: 978-0-8041-7852-5

On sale: 20 May, 2014


For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers.
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart. 
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.

My review:

I’ll admit it. The Sliding Doors reference got me. The concept of exploring two different paths for one person’s life is always an intriguing concept.

This book surprised me on a number of levels. First of all, it was more New Adult than I’d anticipated. Not that I have a problem with NA, although I generally don’t read a lot of it. It was well done in this sense, exploring the relationships and friendships of Rachel at that time in her life, with conflicts that were entirely believable.

The other thing that surprised me about this book was it’s sweetness. It was more than a romance, it was a love story. A genuine Nicholas Spark’s variety love story, that will leave tears streaming down your face.

I can’t really go into very much detail about the plot without giving too much away. All I’ll say is that Jimmy steals the reader’s heart, as much as he steals Rachel’s. Atkin’s strength for characterisation really delivers. While you were left wondering what on earth was going on in Rachel’s life, and how she could possibly be experiencing an entirely different reality to the one detailed at the start of the book, it’s the characters that hold you tight and keep you turning the pages.

Poignant, heartfelt and tear-inducing, this is a beautifully written debut about a love that’s worth holding onto, no matter where the course of life takes you.

About the author:

Dani Atkins lives in rural Hertfordshire, England, with her husband and two children. This is her first novel.


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