Buy But Then I Came Back
Regular price: $18.58 ($24.99 CDN)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers / Raincoast Books
Reviewer: Melissa on April 6, 2017
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
“Something does exist. I saw. It’s a place. Like this but different.”
“Okay, so let’s say we do reach her, that something like that is even possible. Then what?”
“Then we ask her to come back.”
Eden: As far as coma patients go, Eden’s lucky. She woke up. But still, she can’t shake the feeling that she might have dragged something back from the near-afterlife.
Joe: Joe visits the hospital every day, hoping that Jaz, his lifelong friend, will wake up. More than anything, he wants to hear her voice again. But he’s not sure anyone can reach her.
Eden & Joe: Even though she knows it sounds crazy, Eden tells Joe that they might be able to talk to Jaz. Opening themselves up to the great unknown—and each other—Eden and Joe experience life: mysterious and scary, beautiful and bright.
Full disclosure: I haven’t read Estelle Laure‘s previous novel The Raging Light, but when I first heard about But Then I Came Back it sounded exactly like my kind of book with the comparison to Gayle Forman. At least, it must’ve because I jumped at the chance to be part of this blog tour. By the time I actually picked up the book, I really wasn’t sure what it was about anymore…at least not at first, and the surreal in between world where we first meet Eden Jones did confuse me when it was completely out of context. (Though to be fair, this is completely my fault for not rereading the book description before I dived into the novel.)
I’m not going to lie, it did take me a little while to get completely drawn into the story and characters, in part because I read this book on the slow side with very little time focused on reading. However, I soon became charmed by the way Eden sees the world and applies relevant famous quotations into her interior monologue. It’s not ever used by Eden as a way to show other characters up for how intelligent she is, but merely as the main way that she analyzes the often times confusing things she’s experiencing after coming back from her coma, such as seeing hallucinations of parts of the in between world she lived in for several weeks.
Beyond these quotations, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Eden’s unique way of viewing the world. She is funny af, and I found myself laughing out loud while traveling on the subway while reading repeatedly. She also has such a vivid imagination, which is so endearing to me, especially how she imagines complete lives for “Vasquez” and “Hudson,” aka. Jasmine, the only other teen girl on the coma floor and Joe, the only person who visits her. Finally, and this is the pièce de résistance for me, I fell hard for the pitch perfect way Eden describes the swoony feelings she begins developing for Joe the closer they get. It was passages like the following that show not only how completely Laure understands what it’s like to fall in love, but also does so in such an original way that readers, like myself, will be left wondering how they never thought to describe it the same way:
“It’s not my lips, it’s my everything.”
Or like this:
He leans against the counter and smirks at me in a way that sinks my battleships[.]
And how could I forget this:
I don’t know what to say. I wish he would kiss me again, run his hand across my belly, repaint me lovely with his eyes.
While there are inevitably so many other noteworthy passages, these were just some of the ones that stuck out for me.
But maybe best of all is the fact that Eden doesn’t just become a mushy girl who accepts an ambiguous relationship without question. She draws lines around her heart about what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Finally, her conversations with her therapist were pure gold. I don’t know whether her therapist’s suggestions are things that an actual therapist would say, but I also don’t care because in every moment of their dialog and interactions, it felt real and true to life. It’s all of these things about Eden’s character and the novel in general that made me fall hard for But Then I Came Back.
While it’s possibly more on the surreal side than anything that I’ve read by Gayle Forman, But Then I Came Back is a funny, swoony, and smart book that you won’t be able to put down once it grips you.
Buy But Then I Came Back today!
One-Question Interview with Estelle Laure:
YA Book Shelf: What books have had an impact on your writing? What are some of your favourite books?
Estelle Laure: Writing-wise, I am a huge huge admirer of Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ann Patchett, S.E. Hinton, Louise Erdrich, Flannery O’Connor, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, and in YA, Rainbow Rowell, Jandy Nelson, David Arnold, Jeff Zentner. I swoon. I swoon so hard. I only have to open to a random page of any of their books and read a couple of paragraphs to remember why I do this. Favorite books include The Outsiders, Song of Solomon, Cat’s Cradle, Temple of my Familiar, The Year of Magical Thinking, I’ll Give You the Sun, The Serpent King, Commonwealth, 1984, Mosquitoland, Firestarter, The Road, Franny and Zooey…I mean, do you want me to go on? Because I could. Pretty much forever.
YA Book Shelf: Obviously. But it’s okay that you didn’t go on….