This review is a bit late so, for that, I am sorry!
When I first heard about this novel, from following Hayes on social media, I was intrigued to know how a love story told in reverse would work and I enjoyed following the writing process via Hayes’ videos and stories.
The book itself is very clever and I love the premise of going backwards in order to unpick a breakup and explore a relationship and also to look at whether love is worth it and why we choose to do it. I find relationships really interesting and so this novel was definitely one for me. Starting with the breakup gives the book an interesting twist because we already know that the worst will happen from the start of the novel. Yet this knowledge does not spoil the novel in any way and I found that it heightened the emotion throughout. In fact, it only served to draw me in to the narrative to unpick this relationship and find out what had happened to get the characters to that stage.
As a whole, the novel felt like being filled in on a couple’s past and the more I learnt, the more I began to understand the characters, their relationships and actions. The characters were well-crafted and complex and I easily became wrapped up in this world as I turned the pages.
Hayes’ writing throughout was honest and often raw, especially where emotion was concerned. Some parts of the novel were beautifully written and I could easily have marked up lots of quotes that I loved, but I noted them on paper instead so as not to ruin the beautiful copy of the novel, although perhaps I will change my mind when I reread it.
I love the way that Hayes deals with the big themes in her novel such as writing, grief, mental health, family, relationships and sexuality. She deftly handles them all with pure honesty and heart. There is so much about this novel that I adored and I could spend ages talking about it, but I particularly like the portrayal of mental health and the fact that Hayes chooses to depict and talk about therapy.
I have used the word ‘honest’ a lot in this review, but that is the word I would use to describe the tone of this novel and this is largely why I love it so much. It is Hayes’ pure honesty that can be felt as you read and I think it is her moments of honesty that are most beautiful and insightful.
Romance novels and discussions about relationships always appeal to me, and that makes this novel perfect for me. It is described as a mixture of Bridget Jones and Sylvia Plath and I think that is fairly suitable. I would also mention Sally Rooney and say that if you enjoyed her novels, perhaps give this one a try.
Overall, I think that this is a novel that I can see myself returning to and rereading and that shows that it is now a firm favourite of mine. I definitely recommend this one, so please do go and check it out!