On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher
first published by Little Brown on July 14th 2016
- adult, contemporary, romance
- I read the 345 page hardback version
- romantic and dreamy… but is it a little too much?
- find out more on Goodreads
★★★ 3.5 STARS
We all know I’m pretty much in love with Carrie Fletcher, right? So we shouldn’t be surprised that I stood in line for two hours to get this book early – and get it signed – by the lovely lady herself in Sheffield last Monday. For anyone familiar with Carrie’s online presence, you won’t be disappointed to find out On the Other Side is a shining embodiment of her sunny personality. In every way, and despite it’s moments of heart break that left me sobbing into my pillow two nights in a row, this book streams optimism out into the cosmos.
“‘There you go! Why should I shatter your wonderful fantasy with my boring reality?'”
Evie Snow is 82 when she dies. The afterlife is locked away in the apartment she inhabited at the age of 27, the year she was at her happiest in life, but to get in she must first shed the secrets that have been burdening her. As she journeys back to the other side – the living side – to communicate with her family, her secret past with violinist heartthrob Vincent Winters is slowly revealed.
Unfortunately, the beginning of this book was rather slow for me. There’s a lot of exposition and building up to make the rest of the story make sense and that’s just not really my thing – I like action, and jumping right into the middle of things. However, between about 50-65% it became irresistible. That seems like a really, really long time to wait for a book to get super interesting, and if it were anyone but Carrie who had written it I might not have persevered, but I’m so glad I did. On the Other Side is unique in it’s own magical little way.
“‘No, I won’t be hopeless. I am full of hope. I’m a hope-ful.'”
One of my favourite parts of the novel is the Summers family dynamics; they’re so lovely and genuinely heart-warming. In fact one of my favourite moments in the entire book was between August and his wife, Daphne, shortly after Evie visited him from beyond the grave. I wish there had been more, even, because August, Isla, Jim, and Eddie and his partner, make the cutest little family. Speaking of – can we talk about the fact there is actual, named, LGBTQ+ representation in On the Other Side? Carrie ain’t afraid to say the b word yo.
“‘I think about it all the time, about what makes everyone who they are, and if we went back in time and changed anything, whether or not it would make a difference. Would it make us better or worse, or would we just stay exactly the same because we were always destined to end up this way no matter what happened throughout our lives?'”
Moving on from that, though, what is it in particular that I just don’t appreciate then? On the Other Side is simplistic and overly romantic; for me, there was very little depth to the characters or the plot. Everyone was one thing and there wasn’t much development from that, even with Evie, who I would’ve expected more from given the emotional transition she undergoes. Similarly I found the lack of temporal setting to be incredibly distracting. I couldn’t figure out whether I was coming or going, whether the book was set in present day or the 1960s or even in the future. Carrie has since talked about how she did this on purpose but it just made it all feel a little disorientating to me.
Does any of this make the book bad? No. Not by any means. And I really want to reiterate that because, in my opinion, this book is good just not excellent and I’m really excited to see how Carrie’s writing develops in the future and take a look at what else she brings to the table. By the end of the novel I was rabid to finish it off, and I have finished it knowing there is nothing else quite like this on the market. No surprises there – Carrie is, and always will be, a unique talent.
you’ll love this if..
- You love Carrie – her voice runs through the whole piece
- You want a unique, adult tale that still has a lot of cross-age group appeal
- You’re rabid for romance