Let’s Talk About… On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.

Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .

I had wanted to read this novel as soon as it came out in the UK, and when my friend gave me a copy last winter I was so excited to finally be able to read Carrie’s new book! Except I never got around to reading it before my next semester of school started. So O the Other Side made it onto my summer reading list and I’ve finally read it! Just in time for a new Carrie Hope Fletcher novel to be released. I haven’t even ordered All That She Can See yet, but I’m sure I would love it after reading Carrie’s first novel.

Overall, I loved just sitting down and reading this novel. Once I dedicated some time to it, I sped through this book and finished it in a couple of days. It was a great feel-good, sweet novel to read on summer break and I highly recommend reading this book!

Usually I take notes while reading, but I read On the Other Side with out a pen and sticky notes in hand because just wanted to enjoy the story and not think about anything too hard. Sure, there were moments when I wanted to make little comments about how the writing could have been stronger, or how the ends didn’t always quite meet up for me. But I think Carrie has a real talent for creating a captivating world for her readers to experience. The “other side” in this novel is everyone’s personal heaven, and Evie’s is her old apartment that she rented or a year at 27 years old. But in order to open the door to her old apartment, she needs to lighten her heart by telling her most hidden secrets to the most important people in her life that are still alive. Evie visits her son, August, her daughter, Isla, and her one true love, Vincent Winters.

Evie Snow grew up in a rich household. Everyone married for the benefit of the family wealth and prosperity, but Evie was different. She wanted to be an artist in the big city making animated movies and living on her own in the real world, not this stuffed up bubble her family had lived in for generations. When Evie told this to her mother, she was granted freedom with a few limitations: Evie had to get a job and climb higher in her profession by her next birthday or she would be forced to move back home and marry her childhood best friend, Jim Summers. In the year that she spent in London, Evie fell in love, but her job was demeaning and didn’t really go as planned as far as climbing the corporate ladder. When it came closer to the time when Evie would be forced to go back home and marry Jim, Evie still hadn’t gotten a better job than the newspaper she started at, and it becuase clear that she wasn’t going to advance in time.

I will admit that most of the time that I was reading, I imagined Carrie as Evie. I’ve been watching her videos for some time now, and I have heard all the hullabaloo about Evie and Vincent being Carrie and Pete, but that didn’t affect my reading experience in a bad way. I think a story feel much more real when an author writes about what they know and have experienced. Carrie is still young, she knows about her own relationships, and I think it was beneficial to the book that she wrote about a relationship that she was experiencing at the time.

When Evie had to leave Vincent, I believed that she loved Vincent and I loved all of the magic that started to happen, even though the magic was definitely one of the most confusing parts of the book. When she was making this pivotal decision to marry Jim instead of running away with Vincent, she did so to protect her younger brother Eddie when he was inevitably thrown out for telling his parents that he is gay. She sacrificed her own happiness to help Eddie.

But let’s talk about the magic. Weird stuff. Goes 100% unexplained for pretty much the entire novel and it only there for symbolic reasons. I like that each odd event came back in each of the visits to lighten Evie’s heart, but I’m not sure if the magic was completely necessary because none of it made sense. Each time Evie entered the living world as a ghost, she revealed some magic to the person she was visiting: The bird whose wings she and Vincent used to write and send messages back and forth, Evie’s drawings that inexplicably turned to glass and shattered, and her heart which she buried in her childhood backyard. Each time I rad one of these stories I didn’t understand why the magic was necessary. That’s my only criticism of the novel. The magic confused me and never really made sense. I feel like it would have held just as much impact if Isla had found a box full of drawings on paper and August had found a booklet of notes the Evie kept from her time with Vincent. The only one I can’t explain a different way of happening for is the tree that grew from Evie’s removed heart. But a person can’t actually survive without their real heart so like what? And then it grows into a tree with fruit that only Evie and Vincent enjoy the taste of. That I can’t explain at all and the symbolism was sweet. I just didn’t like the lack of explanation for the presence of magic in general. lol Rant over.

I think those are all of my thoughts! I thoroughly enjoyed On the Other Side and I know I will pick up more of Carrie’s writing in the future.

Katie x

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