“There are three kinds of trials in life. There are the trials God gives you, which almost always lead to wisdom, and so are worth the trouble. There are the trials you force upon yourself, which should be abandoned at their onset. And there are the trials we create for one another, which are more complicated because it is impossible to know whose hand is guiding them. The only advice I can give anyone is this: Don’t ever shrink from those last trials. Run to them. Because only in the quality of your struggle with one another will you learn anything about yourself. Sometimes that struggle is nearly impossible to survive, but it is those trials which make a life.”
So many people have loved this one, and I had severe #fomo not having read it yet. From the reviews I’d read, there were a lot of talking points, so I thought it would make a great book for my monthly read along (you can find these under #HWRbooks on instagram!).
Throughout most of the book, I feared that the hype had ruined it for me. I found the writing and the story just fine…but nothing to write home about. Part 3 totally saved the book for me and that’s where I found myself most interested in the story.
I really didn’t love or connect to any of the characters. While I generally love books that dive deep into character’s inner lives, this one fell short for me. I didn’t feel any sort of emotion towards any of them, and for a book that deals with some heavy themes, I desperately needed to. I found Lily to be such a despicable person, and while she does eventually evolve into a much nicer person, it wasn’t enough for me. Her attitude kind of just ruined the whole book for me.
Also, I didn’t find the relationships between these four very believable. For me, it didn’t serve a purpose at all except to show the juxtapositions of each of their beliefs about faith. This aspect of the novel was very intriguing and the part that makes this a solid choice for any book club. Each character has a very different view of faith and its role in their life, and the greater world. As someone who hasn’t ever delved deeply into the philosophical aspects of faith and religion, I found this to be especially interesting. (If religion and faith aren’t your thing, don’t worry…every character has a different idea of faith, so you can relate to at least one of them!)
As I mentioned above, Part 3 completely saved this book for me. It’s where the characters become so much more real and believable to me. I absolutely loved the introduction of the twins (especially Will), as they soften Lily and help her become a more likable person. I also loved Annelise and James and their storyline as well.
This book is a slow build that definitely pays off by the end. It won’t be topping my end of the year lists, but admittedly, it did have a way of getting under my skin and sticking with me. Sadly, I think this is a story I’m likely to forget the details of as time goes on.
(I’d love to have you join the conversation over on my Instagram page: @happiestwhenreading!)