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Then and Always by Dani Atkins

Then and Always

by Dani Atkins

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Good book for the most part. I guessed the ending, fairly near the ending, but after that it all felt a bit flat. ( )
  Fluffyblue | May 21, 2016 |
I didn't think this was as good as "Our Song" by the same author, but still a light, enjoyable read. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Apr 20, 2016 |
Rachel Wiltshire used to have a pretty good life. She had a great group of friends, she was headed to her dream school to study journalism, and she was dating the guy that everybody wanted to be with. Then, one fateful night, a car crashed through a window of the restaurant she and her friends were eating in and changed everything.

Fast forward five years, and Rachel is still recovering from the injuries sustained from the devastating accident. Her best friend is dead, she broke things off with her boyfriend, and her dad is dying of cancer. With the stress of her injuries, her hospitalizations, and the resultant side effects, she was forced to abandon her dreams of going to university. She lost contact with nearly all of her former friends, took a job as a secretary at an engineering company, and lives alone in a dreary flat over a laundromat. Or does she?

As Rachel heads back home to attend her friend's wedding, she finds that her symptoms are becoming increasingly worse. She decides to ignore them for the time being and make an appointment with her doctor once the weekend's festivities are over, but soon she can't overlook the searing pain from the headaches. Thinking that a walk might clear her head and the fresh air might help her headache, she takes a stroll through the cemetery to visit her friend Jimmy's grave. Soon after, she begins losing her vision and collapses on the sidewalk. When she wakes up in the hospital, everything is wrong. She's engaged to Matt, her high school boyfriend, who she hasn't seen in five years. Her dad is perfectly healthy. She has none of the side effects or scars that resulted from the car crash. She has her dream job of writing for a magazine. And most shockingly, Jimmy is standing at the foot of her bed as if nothing has happened.

Rachel must piece together what's true and what's an illusion. Has she sustained brain damage from a head injury? Does she have amnesia? Has she developed schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder? Has she traveled to some parallel universe where everything worked out perfectly? And, if so, why does she want so desperately to go back to the way things should be, even if how things should be is worse than how they are?

Then and Always surprised me. I read a few pages here and there over a few days, but then really set aside a few hours to see how everything would unravel. I could not put this book down. I was rooting for Rachel on every page, waiting for her to find out what really happened and knowing that she wasn't crazy. I wanted to file a formal complaint against those doctors who dealt with her confusion by sedating her! The completely unexpected ending broke my heart while simultaneously giving me hope that Rachel would end up happy.

Highly recommended for anyone looking for an unconventional love story.

Thank you to the author and Ballantine Books for the advance copy. ( )
  Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
Grab your tissues and a box of chocolates. This is one very emotional and beautiful story, it will break you into pieces and finish you off with a bittersweet dream of pure joy. I loved reading it more than any book I’ve read in this gene this year. It gave me hope in my heart for a different ending.
Rachel was having one last dinner with her boyfriend and their friends before heading off to college. She is dating Matt, beautiful rich Matt who every girl wants but somehow she won his hand in hers. Jimmy her friend sits across from her and wants to talk with her privately before they all go their separate ways tomorrow. She doesn’t think much of it, she’s worked about Matt and their separation. Everything changes in the headlights of a car heading for the restaurant window. Friends scramble for safety, Matt scuttles of with Cathy an attractive girl who has been ogling him, and doesn’t want him going to her. Time slows down, certain things become clear. Rachel is pinned in front of the car heading right for her till somebody pushes her to safety. Somebody who will not be going on to college with the others, this death will effect every moment of the future for Rachel.
Rachel has been in a hospital for 5 years ? Or wasn’t she ? Things are confusing, she is having these terrible headaches. Her father is very sick, her ex Matt is now dating Cathy and is making weird advances towards her. He college life never happened and she now suffers along with a secretarial job she doesn’t enjoy. Her cat is treating her like a hated enemy. When she is reunited with her old friends and hears that Jimmy had always been madly in love with her she puts some pieces together. When she decides she has to visit Jimmy’s grave finally things take a different turn when a headache sends her to her knees.
This is a story of pain suffering and great lose. It is also a story of great love beauty and true happiness in this life and the next. It offers our delicate hearts a chance to dream of more. Beautifully written. ( )
  TheYodamom | Jan 29, 2016 |
Oh my word, this is a fantastic book.

First off, it made me cry. And many books make me cry anymore.

The story is just incredible. It is so well written that you are pulled in from the first page and can’t put it down. I loved all the characters, but especially Rachel. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but I wasn’t expecting the ending at all. Now that I finished reading, I realize that this was the perfect ending and that it couldn’t have ended any other way. But I was still completely taken by surprise.

The book is beautifully written, it’s an amazing story of friendship, heartache, family, loyalty and true love. This book made it to my “all time favorite books” list and is one that I will read again.

I can only compare this book to the effect “Beaches” and “Love Story” had on me. If you’re thinking about buying this book, so it now. You won’t regret it!

( )
  katsmiao | Oct 23, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804178526, Paperback)

For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers.
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment, but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:52 -0400)

"Rachel's life is perfect. A handsome boyfriend, great friends and the prospect of starting at university in a few weeks means she's never been happier. But in a single heartbeat, a single event tears her world apart. Five years later, Rachel is still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that changed everything. Returning to her hometown for the first time in years for her best friend's wedding, she finds herself consumed by the thoughts of the life that could have been. But when a sudden fall lands her in hospital, Rachel awakes to discover that nothing is the way she thought it was. Unable to trust her own memories, Rachel is drawn into this new world where the man she lost is alive and well but where she is engaged to be married to someone else"--… (more)

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