Nineteen Letters reviewed by Annie

Jemma and Braxton grew up next door to each other. They were best friends as children, which developed into a romantic relationship and then they got married. Just after their honeymoon Jemma is hit by a car on the way to work. After being in a coma for some time she becomes conscious, but has no memory of her life before the accident.

Braxton uses letters to remind her of her life, and through these we learn of their history and relationship. His frustration at having to hold his new wife at arm’s distance are shown – ‘I worried she would never wake up, and I would lose her. Not once did I contemplate the possibility that she would wake up and I would lose her anyway’. Her feelings of confusion are also portrayed – ‘I should feel grateful for surviving the accident, but I don’t. I have no idea where I belong. I would never voice this out loud, but there’s a huge part of me that wishes I didn’t wake up. That might sound selfish, but that’s exactly how I feel. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, only darkness’.

There are subplots of Jemma’s parents’ fractured relationship, the tension between Braxton’s business partner and friend, Lucas, and Jemma’s best friend, Rachel, and the death of Braxton’s mother when he was a child and his father’s early-stage Alzheimer’s. These all add layers to the book

There is an art to writing a book with substance and issues, that is readable at the same time. For me the emphasis was on easy reading, and it was a little predictable, but it still struck a nice balance to some of the hard-hitting books I have read recently.

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