Verdict: IN THIS LIFE holds poignant messages about fate and faith, told with captivating, lyrical prose.
A young couple tries to recapture the romance of their first encounter after years apart and secrets discovered in this sweet and stirring literary romance.
While on a humanitarian mission in a small fishing village in Thailand, medical student Anna Dillon meets the enigmatic, alluring Jude Grayson. They find themselves in the midst of a whirlwind romance, trading thoughts on life, religion, and destiny as they soak in the sparkling beaches and moonlit skies of their own paradise. But their intense, passionate bond is cut short when tragedy strikes Anna’s family, forcing her to return home. After five long years, Jude enters her life again only to unravel a web of secrets and betrayal from those closest to her. Anna is left to wonder if the path she could have traveled is still a possibility—but at what cost? IN THIS LIFE is steeped in gorgeous quotes about spirituality, love, and the mystery of soulmates. “When you lose your soul to a kiss,” Anna muses, “it’s irretrievable.” There is no doubt that Brae’s writing is evocative. Her heartfelt, beautiful sentiments resonate like a saccharine dream of a fairytale. Perhaps too sweet and drenched in melodrama at times, but the ideas nestled inside the core of the novel are thought-provoking. A recurring theme surrounding seahorses is an adorable touch. The scenes in both Thailand and New York are rendered with the same captivating prose that colors both protagonists’ internal dialogues as they are entrenched in their own conflicts.
Jude and Anna’s romance is beautiful in theory, but the depth of their love is told more than shown. As the novel wanders into love triangle territory, characters often have the same conversations and arguments time and time again. It becomes repetitive and the plot barely advances enough to allow for a developed romance instead of heightened drama. Anna and Jude’s emotional back-and-forth conflict is all over the place, which often feels confusing and a little frustrating. Despite this flaw, the story delivers in its heart,.
Subtly woven, Anna’s relationship with her younger brother Mikey and their journey past grief is a stirring layer of the novel. Anna’s sacrifices in the wake of tragedy are realistic. Her friendship and love shared with her best friend Dante is another high point told with humor and heartbreak. IN THIS LIFE has a few plot twists that deliver suspense to keep the pages turning.
IN THIS LIFE holds poignant messages about fate and faith, told with captivating, lyrical prose.