Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 10 hours 30 minutes
Read: June 2017
Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.
June O’Donnell – aka Junior, aka Jack, aka Jonathan O’Donnell IV, aka the first female O’Donnell firstborn – has always been haunted by her family’s mythic but complicated legacy. As she prepares to begin her final year of high school, June is itching to leave behind her ghosts in Five Fingers, Michigan, and travel the world.
And then, just like it always happens to the O’Donnells, a painful glimmer from her past returns to mess everything up.
Enter Saul Angert, the eldest son of Eli Angert, aka June’s late father’s mortal enemy, back in town from a prestigious writing program to care for his ailing father. June can’t seem to avoid Saul, whose very presence makes her ache with grief over her father, and soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic, and strangely tender boy whom she was born to loathe.
When June and Saul accidentally stumble into a bit of the forest magic, they are allowed a glimpse into the past at the fateful, horrible moment that started all the trouble between their families. Now June doesn’t know if this new discovery means she should hate the Angerts even more or if it’s finally time for her – and all of the O’Donnells before her – to let go.
I’ve had the ARC for Emily Henry’s first book, The Love That Split The World, for some time now and still haven’t read it, so I really didn’t know what to expect when I read this book. Let’s just say that it came through with my idea of a young adult contemporary story, but what I didn’t expect were the touches of magic throughout the story. I haven’t really read many contemporary stories that fall into the magical realism category so it’s almost like I have to suspend belief when I read a book like this.
This book is said to be Romeo & Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude. If there’s a completely tedious book that I did not enjoy reading, it was One Hundred Years of Solitude, but I will say that Emily Henry’s writing was so much more compelling than that story that I’m glad I didn’t read the synopsis beforehand or I might not have read the story at all. This is a book that could have been told in flashbacks, but instead the characters seem to step into that flashback and experience the things they may have forgotten growing up, or they see the things they weren’t meant to see in the first place. It was quite a different kind of story from what I had ever read and while it wasn’t my favourite, I’m very eager to read more by Emily Henry to see what her other writing is like. I felt like the characters were engaging and compelling, and while the whole idea of Romeo & Juliet-type of forbidden love could be seen as something that’s been way overdone, it was interesting to get pieces of that particular part of the story as the book goes on.
This book is NOT for everyone. Trust me. Like I said, I went into this expecting some kind of contemporary story, so if you’re expecting that AND can get behind some more fantastical elements that aren’t quite fantasy, but more along the lines of ghosts and the past literally coming to life, then maybe you’ll enjoy it.
I just started to really love Julia Whelan’s narrating this year and she does a great job with this story. I felt like the pacing was spot on and she really told the story in a way that made me want to keep listening. This story was good, but not totally my kind of story so had the narration been bad, I probably would have just stopped listening.