In Katherine Slee’s new novel, The Book of Second Chances, readers meet a young woman who must undergo a bizarre follow-the-clues type of adventures in order to grieve the loss of her grandmother and also make her peace with her tragic past. This novel is a touching story about one woman’s path towards learning more about her grandmother and herself in the process.
Emily can't remember the last time she left the house. Or spoke to anyone besides her grandmother, beloved children's author Catriona Robinson. After Catriona's death, Emily is at a complete loss . . . until she gets an unexpected letter from the woman she loved most. Catriona has revealed there might be one last, lost unpublished manuscript in her wildly popular book series. And she's left a secret diary and trail of clues that only Emily can follow. From London to Paris to Verona, Emily traces her grandmother's past, finding out more about her family — and herself — than she ever imagined possible. Hopeful and adventurous, The Book of Second Chances celebrates books and bookstores, the power of imagination, and having the courage to shape our own destinies.
Grief-stricken and reclusive, Emily Davenport experiences PTSD after a tragic accident and her grandmother’s scavenger hunt/adventure forces her to come out of her shell and confront painful memories from her past. The theme of getting a second chance at life is portrayed as both hopeful and foreboding. The idea that both Catriona and Emily are given second chances in their lives allows them to heal from their past and try and do better to honor the ones they love. In turn, it forces them to think of themselves and their hopes and dreams.
Emily’s physical and psychological disabilities help contribute to a deeper sense of the themes of living life to the fullest. Since she is so self-conscious about her scars and speech impediment, Emily is wary of the unknown and experiencing things outside of her comfort zone. Added to the fact that the one person in her life that has been a constant source of support and stability has died, leaves Emily reeling. However, the way she accepts the things that have happened to her becomes inspiring and shows that while healing isn’t easy, it is necessary.
Emily uses birds to cope and bring her joy in her life and Slee utilizes the birds not only as chapter titles, but the facts and attributes they represent only contribute to both the development of Emily’s character and the themes of the novel. The illustrations before each chapter are beautiful and match wonderfully and really bring the story to life for the reader.
This novel also highlights the ways in which one's life can be touched. Whether it be from a favorite book, a relatable character, friends you’ve known for decades or friends you haven’t spoken to in years, certain things impact our lives and Slee shows just how one moment or persons can alter someone’s life forever.
Overall, this novel will bring tears to your eyes and move you to think about how to live your life to the fullest. Anyone who has dealt with the loss of a loved one can take comfort in knowing that everyone has felt desolate and lost after the fact. However, Emily’s story will inspire hope that though a Phoenix may die, a new one will rise from the ashes in its place.
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!