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Friday, November 22, 2013

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Book Review: Life After Life

I stumbled upon Life After Life by Kate Atkinson at the top of the Kindle Best Books of the Month list. With an interesting and unique premise and raving reviews, I had to go for it.

And I'm glad I did, but I'm also on the lookout for anyone else who did too. Life After Life is a book that must be discussed for, it is is a book that will affect everyone a different way.
Set in the early 1900s, this book follows the life of Ursula Todd, an English girl growing up with her family in their home in the country. But instead of just one life, Ursula has many. As she grows, she dies, in many different ways, and begins her life over again. As she relives her life over and over again the world marches towards the second World War, which takes many of her lives as well. Slowly, Ursula begins to realize that she has seen this all before. With feelings too great to be deja vu, Ursula knows that she must take action and change the course of history. But is that even possible? Is that what she's meant to do?

By just reading the premise, the book seems to be a gripping sci-fi/fantasy period piece set in one of the most volatile times in history. But that's not exactly what you're going to get.

Ursula is a normal person. She has hopes, dreams, fears, strengths, and short comings. Her life is as unremarkable as the next. (Except for the fact that she keeps reliving it.) Atkinson writes her as she would any normal realistic fiction. And it is extremely well done. We ramble through her lives with her. No detail too small, no moment too insignificant to mention. It's her day to day life, and it's simple and beautiful. But it can also be very depressing.

Ursula lives and dies so many times, especially during WWII, that it's hard to read. We are constantly seeing the same events over and over from several different angles and circumstances, but she just keeps dieing. In one life, she's killed when a bomb drops on her London apartment, in another she kills herself and her child in her home in Germany before they freeze to death. It's rough.
"What if we had a chance to do it again and again," Teddy said, "until we finally get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?" "I think it would be exhausting."
And it really is. It takes Ursula a very long time to figure out why she keeps reliving her life. But when she does, when she accomplishes the thing the readers all think is the whole point of all of this, she dies, and lives again. And it starts all over.
And that really left me confused. Is she just going to live forever, over and over again? Did she not do what she was supposed to do? Did she not get it right? Does it even matter??!! This is why I really need to talk to someone else who's read this book! The meaning of it all could be interpreted so many ways.

But ultimately, as confusing as the story is, I don't think Ursula's story is the real point of the book. What Life After Life really does is make you wonder how each decision has brought you to where you are now. By seeing all of Ursula's different lives, we are able to see how different decisions change the rest of her life. It makes us realize that even decisions that we would not even think of as important, have to the power to set our lives in entirely different directions. It is truly our choices who make us who we really are.
We only have one after all, we should try and do our best. We can never it get it right, be we must try.
Have you read Life After Life? How did you interpret it? Head over to the forum to discuss!

Title: Life After Life

Author: Kate Atkinson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: Mature Male and Female readers

Final Rating: Three out of Five mugs of hot chocolate 

Interested in the complications of reincarnation? Use the link below and your purchase will help support the Lone Book Club.

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