Friday, October 13, 2017

Everything We Left Behind

Title:  Everything We Left Behind
Author:  Kerry Lonsdale
Publication Information:  Lake Union Publishing. 2017. 348 pages.
ISBN:  1477823972 / 978-1477823972

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "He dreamed about her again."

Favorite Quote:  "I urge you to come to terms with past mistakes, to forgive those who have wronged you, and find peace within yourself. You might discover that despite the losses, you've gained so much more."

The question of this book is can you go home again? When time has passed, can you return to a life and expect to pick up the pieces and step right back in? The even bigger question is do you really truly even want to?

Everything We Left Behind is the follow up Kerry Lonsdale's debut book Everything We Keep. The first book is about Aimee Tierney as she deals with the disappearance of her childhood sweetheart and husband to be, James Donato. By the end, the book reveals how and why James disappeared and how Aimee moves forward.

This book picks up six years later when James returns to California. The story is now about James remembering and moving forward. Aimee has started life anew. She is running a business, is married, and has a child. James is a widower with two boys, wondering how he got to where he is. He is rediscovering himself. In some ways, his life has been wonderful in the last six years. In other ways, it has not been his life at all, at least not the one he thinks he knows.

James' medical condition, which carries forward from the first book is dissociative fugue. This is a psychiatric disorder in which an individual can have two completely different personas - memories included. The individual is either one or the other, and can remain in one states for days, months, or even years as with James. Within each state, the individual is completely immersed in that life, emotions, actions, memories and all. Unless the individual has been told, there is no recognition or acknowledgement of another life. However, when a transition occurs from one persona to the other, the individual has no memory of the other.

James Donato is also Jaime Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two. He has been happily so for six years. The discontent and sadness arrives when Carlos  awakes one day as James. Now, back as James, he struggles between his two identities and the love he has in both. His journey is further complicated by family and business intrigue that forced James to becomes Carlos now finds him again. So, his struggle to rediscover also turns into a struggle to survive, escape, and protect his family.

This book is more challenging than the first to follow. James story is more difficult to follow than Aimee's. The timeline is not linear. Past and present collide more in this book. Aimee's stories of the past were clearly nostalgic memories of the past. James's memories are that but also introduce decisions, actions, and incidents that are now coming forward into his present and threatening the life he has built. As such, past and present sometimes become blurred.

Perhaps, the nonlinear timeline creates a disconnect. Perhaps, James is a less interesting character than Aimee. Perhaps, the styles of the books and the story they tell is too similar. Perhaps, I read the two books one after the other. Perhaps, the mystery is lacking, and the ending is predictable. For all these reasons, this book is still an entertaining read but a less engaging one than the first.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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