I first started listening to this book back in 2019 when audio just wasn’t my jam (now I can’t imagine life without the soothing sound of a good narration filling my ears while I wash up/cook/clean). I DNF’d, planning to come back to it one day and I’m pleased to say that I finally did. Ironically, I went back to the audio and loved it (seriously what was 25-year-old me thinking)?
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️(and almost a half)
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Published on: 29 January 2018
Pages: 308 (hardback)
Audio time: 9 hours
Published by: Algonquin Books
– Plot/narrative – 4.3
– Writing style/readability – 4.6
– Characters – 4.5
– Diverse themes – 4.5
– Ending – 4.3
Overall – 4.4
A simple story with thought-provoking themes
Early into their marriage, Celestial’s husband, Roy, is arrested and sentenced to 12 years for a crime he did not commit. Though strong and independent, Celestial is rocked by the injustice and suddenly thrown into a life of solitude, seeking solace in her childhood friend, Andre. What follows is a character-driven, multi-perspective insight into what happens when life doesn’t turn the way you expected. When a marriage is tested beyond its means. And when an innocent man is finally released back into a world he no longer recognises.
Pairs well with your ears
This was one of the books I picked for my March’s reading challenge, where the theme was ‘books that celebrate diversity.’ I switched between reading and listening, but mostly stuck to the audio, as I was sucked into the narration and loved hearing the story from the POVs of the three main characters. As this is a predominantly character-driven novel, I’d highly recommend opting for audio, which really brings the characters and their personalities to life.
Characters that will leave a lasting impression
I loved the dynamics between Roy, Celestial, and Andre – each had their own story, their own revelations, and their own perspective. It was very insightful to hear from each one which helped shape the story and the character development. I thought the story was simple but effective, highlighting the all too real impact of racism and unlawful convictions.
It certainly wasn’t just a book about cheating; it went much deeper than that and I applaud the author’s ability to explore a topic that most (including me) don’t enjoy reading about. Her characters were unapologetically authentic and symbolised real people, in real yet imperfect marriages. It also explored prejudice, upbringing, and motherhood; these layers added to the book’s authenticity and rawness.
Overall, a powerful novel that was brilliantly written and left plenty of food for thought.