The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett | Book Review
I loved the idea of this book when I heard of it, since I think it's so crazy how much our lives can change with one decision. I wanted to see how the author would play out these differences and weave a story around the characters throughout the book.
I think it was really well written and each version of each character is so well developed. Even small characters who play a different role in each version were well thought out, often mentioned in the versions they didn't play a key role in. Each character's personality differences made sense, since their relationships differed depending on what had happened in that version to make them like or dislike the other characters.
It was a little confusing keeping up with what had happened in each version, and I kind of wished I had a timeline of each version, say at the start of each chapter to pull me back into that version. I found it took me a couple of pages, or until a mention of a specific person made me realise which version I was reading. It does say at the start of each chapter which version it was, but that wasn't quite enough for me since I got them a little muddled. I think that kind of proves though that Eva and Jim and really shown as the same people throughout, just with different pasts.
This book took me about a month to read, just putting that out there. Not because I didn't like it, but it maybe just wasn't the kind of read I was looking for at the time. I had a bit of reading time on weekends so I could have finished it earlier if I had felt the need to read it, but I just found other things to do. I think because it was a book where I had to think about what that particular version's characters had done since the last time I read their version, it was a little harder to read. With a normal book, my memory is enough to keep up with what is going on.
I think this would have been a light, one afternoon read had it just followed one version, but that's not really the point. I found that when I read for a couple of hours, it was easier, because I didn't have to try to remember things that had happened when I'd read that chapter a few days earlier. In my opinion, the writing quality and character development of each version would have allowed for it to be it's own novel, albeit a shorter one. But then it wouldn't have been as thought provoking as the actual book is.
I think it came to a natural end as it caught up to present day. The ending was a little heartbreaking, but I think that just shows how attached I got to them over the course of the book.
This concept was really interesting to me, and Barnett did really well at making it work. Although their lives aren't too dramatic, their real and that's what makes it work. Here is a video where the author, Laura Barnett, explains how she wrote the book:
I thought this book dealt well with lots of serious issues, including infidelity, loyalty and depression and although they weren't that in your face, they were touched on enough that the character took it in as part of their story. It doesn't make it the most uplifting read, but it was real and relatable.
I would recommend reading this book if it interests you, but I'd also recommend reading it maybe over a weekend or while on holiday in one short go to make the most of it. If you do read it, tweet me with your thoughts @emmalouisablog or comment below.
Thank you to Hachette NZ for my review copy. All opinions are my own.