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The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
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The Versions of Us

by Laura Barnett

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2361648,914 (3.57)11

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Really not sure about this book, the idea is great, in that if you went with one pathway your life could be so different than if you went another way, and I really wanted to like it, but I just found it a bit of a chore. Trying to remember which version of the story we were at and who was with who and what children belonged to who (or is that Whom?)
I just got weary of it! ( )
  Glorybe1 | Jun 26, 2017 |
Let’s cut right to the chase: I loved this book. The Versions of Us is the story of Eva and Jim, or rather three versions of their story that vary based on small decisions taken in the moment. In version one, Eva's bike gets a flat tire, Jim stops to help her, and fireworks ensue. In version two, Eva ignores Jim and goes home to her boyfriend. Version three is kind of a hybrid. Chapters rotate through the versions and through the years, from 1958 to 2012. Certain events -- like the death of a parent -- mark time in all three versions. Sometimes a chapter ends on a cliffhanger which is carried over to the next version; sometimes the reader has to wait for that version to come around again to find out what happened. Eva and Jim’s lives follow such different paths that I had to keep notes until I could keep the versions straight in my head. That didn’t take long, and the structure totally worked. I was amazed to learn this is a debut novel.

Each version can stand on its own as a compelling story filled with love, joy, sadness, loss, and missed opportunities. And no version is better than the others; each has a different set of highs, lows, and plausible outcomes. I found myself reflecting on how small actions may have changed the course of events in my own life, which was absolutely fascinating. As I approached the end of the novel, I was swept up in the emotional impact of these life stories. I am a "dry reader," but I read the last chapter of The Versions of Us at my desk over lunch, choking back tears. That’s when I knew I’d found a 5-star read. ( )
2 vote lauralkeet | Mar 7, 2017 |
Perhaps rating it halfway through, with no intention of finishing the book, is not fair. I don't care. I can't bear to finish this.

Primarily for the reason most negative reviews give, and for which I can't help but wondering how the editor of this novel still has a job: the confusing aspect of the three stories. As many other readers had to, I was forced to review the story so far before starting each chapter (sometimes out loud, to the wonderment of my kids in the room with me) "OK, version two: never hooks up with Jim, marries David, now David's left, right, now she's with Ted...." Every single time I found I had to do that, and was still confused mid-chapter -- "wait, I thought her kid's name was Jennifer -- oh, right, that's the other version." It just wasn't worth the effort.

Seriously, how is the editor still employed? ( )
  ChayaLovesToRead | Feb 28, 2017 |
Eva falls off her bike. Jim is passing by. This book is three versions of what might have happened to their relationship, interwoven.

All in all, I found it very confusing and difficult to remember the history of each version every time I came round to it. ( )
  pamjw | Dec 27, 2016 |
The story (actually three stories) of Eva and Jim, and their life (or lives)...

This book was hard work to read at first -- every time the version changed, I had to go back to remember what exactly had happened in the previous story line. As the novel progressed, however, it became easier and easier to remember what was what, and by the end of the book, I was drawn in to the characters' lives and very curious how it would all wrap up. I don't re-read many books, but I think this is one that I might re-read to make sure I caught all the subtle references in each version of the characters' lives.

FYI -- I bought the British version of this novel, which included a section by the author called "Ten Novels that Made Me." I loved this! Especially since I have read many of the books that the author cites.... (I wonder what Laura Barnett thinks of "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson, as I think both novels attempt to answer the "what if" question.) ( )
  agjuba | Jul 24, 2016 |
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