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Elizabeth is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, and author. Her first book “Beyond Black and White” is available now. She is an old soul who's young at heart, a human jukebox, and a corgi lady in training. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @ElizabethThe.

Book Review: Dani Atkins’ “Then And Always”

Want to add a little romance and mystery to your summer reading list? Look no further than Dani Atkins‘ debut novel, Then and Always, which Penguin Canada predicts to be the breakout beach read of 2014.

Rachel Wiltshire’s life reads like a dream: she has a great group of friends, a handsome and desirable boyfriend, and an acceptance into her choice university to study Journalism. However, on the eve of the beginning of this exciting new chapter in her life, a tragic event occurs and everything changes completely.

Five years later, we find Rachel as a lonely and scarred person with dashed dreams, poor health, and overwhelming guilt and grief over what had happened after that life-altering incident. She returns home for her best friend’s wedding only to be struck by yet another tragedy. When she wakes up in the hospital, Rachel discovers that her life is drastically different. Now, she has it all – a thriving career, a wonderful fiancé, and the company of her loving family and friends. On paper, this version of her life is picture perfect – a massive upgrade from the miserable existence she had gone through over the past few years. But is it really hers if she doesn’t remember any of it? Is any of this really real?

Then And Always takes readers on a journey with Rachel as she attempts to piece together her past with the present to figure out how the life she remembered was overridden by this new one she has no recollection of. Even in her muddled state, Rachel is an identifiable and sympathetic heroine. She is open and honest with her perspectives and motivations. You can feel her struggle and frustration alongside with her as she desperately tries to deconstruct the confusing mystery of her double lives and make sense of it all. As she attempts to uncover the truth about this parallel life, she is supported by a cast of solid characters who fit the archetypes of the loyal hero, the doting dad, the trusty best friend, the attractive (albeit dubious) boyfriend, yet possess their own unique nuances and quirks. Carefully and precisely paced, the novel has several unconventional plot twists to keep you on the edge of the pages and ultimately concludes with an unexpected ending you won’t see coming.

On the surface, this book has some of the formulaic features of your typical chick lit – a heroine with a cool job in the city, a love triangle… but Then And Always is much more complex and dimensional. As I read the novel, I wondered why Rachel seemed to be so determined to hold on to the way things were when this new variant of her life was a total improvement, but I came to realize that the lack of understanding and control over your own fate can drive a person mad. It is thought-provoking and intriguing ideas like this that make Then And Always a standout on the bookshelves. This emotional and hopeful story of second chances struck me then and will be stuck with me always.

Then And Always by Dani Atkins is available now in Canada from Penguin Canada. The book is also currently available in the UK (under the title Fractured) and in the US.

Follow Dani Atkins on Twitter (@AtkinsDani) and Facebook.

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3 Comments on “Book Review: Dani Atkins’ “Then And Always””

  1. Teena in Toronto (@TeenainToronto) May 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    I enjoyed this story! :)


  1. Book Review: Then And Always | Elizabeth Rosalyn - May 27, 2014

    […] Continue reading on The Hudsucker… […]

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