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Loved and Lost

Loved and Lost - Stephanie Kusiak This is the story of a woman that loses the love of her life but gets the chance to do things all over again to try and make a better life for both of them. You get some glimpses into their former life while Blake is experiencing this new life for the bulk of the story. It is emotionally charged from the onset, with lots of angst throughout, if you're in the mood for that. I really did get pulled into the narrative of this and the writing is really really well done, but there are some problems I had with it that never stopped nagging me.

There are so many time (and life) jumps that it was difficult to tell throughout when (or in what life) these things were happening. Is this a high school flash back? A new life flash forward? A former life flash forward/backward? There were a lot of times I had to read quite a bit of the italics sections before I could tell. And a couple sections that I honestly couldn't tell if they were supposed to be in italics at all!

The emotions in this story really are key to the enjoyment. However, there are a lot of relationships from the former life that just disappear completely in the second half of the story. These are relationships that are described as being important friendships, and although you would expect things to change with what Blake's doing in THIS life, it makes no sense that these friends are never mentioned again. Additionally, there is a big reveal between Blake and Rachel that is hyped up quite a bit (I kept waiting for it to happen then assumed it never would) but it was glossed over to the extent of being anti-climactic. I believe it would have made the narrative (and ending) much more effective if this had been handled with more finesse. The second half overall really dragged for me. I feel like the narrative was unbalanced with so much focus on their loving relationship, that it took away a lot of what was good about the first half (the tension, the what-ifs).

I also have a difficult time when I can tell a story is fanfic. Don't get me wrong, I totally read fanfic. However, when a book is so obviously set in a world that already exists, it makes me feel a little bit cheated. The characters have already been created, the circumstances don't change much, and the high school is the same as in a tv show. Which is completely fine for casual reading, but it sticks in my brain when I can picture Rachel Barry so clearly and aren't given the chance to create a world in my own mind.

So, overall, I'm glad I read it. It was emotional and tugged my heart strings, but it was frustrating because I really do think it could have been an amazing book.