I received a copy of this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinion.
If I were to give 2014 my gravitational trend of reading materials, it would definitely be contemporary. I love contemporary for a lot of reasons — it makes you feel things really deeply in such a short amount of time, it’s real life, and it usually makes me expel all the emotions that I’m not so good at releasing all on my own. But if I were to tighten that scope, I would say so many books this year have been about death and the aftermath of those left behind. There Will Come a Time joins the ranks of those books and again squeezed my heart with its grief and hope and love.
The book starts with our male protagonist Mark — he is grieving the loss of his twin sister Grace after a car accident killed her and left Mark with some stitches. Not only has he lost a sister, but the very person who made him whole. Even though I am not a twin, I can see how deeply he feels for Grace and his possessiveness over the grief he feels.
At the opening and undetermined amount has passed — enough time for summer to come to an end, therapy to be over, and life to begin getting back to some kind of normal. But for Mark, none of those things are really possible. We see a young man who can only really get relief at the place she died — when he’s looking death right in the face. It’s a powerful image and one that stuck with me throughout the book.
“I try to feel it, that space between wanting to live and wanting to die, as if it’s tangible, someplace I can crawl into. I strain against the bridge and the air. Only my fingertips hold my weight.”
Although I felt Mark’s pain, this book did not, in fact, make me sob. It was heart wrenching at times, but the grief was something I could understand from the outside looking in, rather than from the character’s point of view, like I normally do. While this may sound like a bad thing, I actually enjoyed it. I felt more like an adult reading this book than I do most books in this genre. It didn’t take me back to that place when I was a teen. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t take away anything. I just felt like I was in a different place.
Speaking of different place, this book is set in LA. It doesn’t feel like a book set in LA. I’ve never been there of course, but this book felt like it was set in a smaller town. The scale just didn’t seem that large, and anyways, it wasn’t really relevant to the main points of the story. The big city wasn’t another character. It was kind of like Mark being Filipino. While it was interesting to see some of the Filipino culture, it felt more sprinkled into the story than an actual embrace. Both of these elements didn’t feel natural and pertinent to the main story, but rather two details added in.
I really did like the dynamicness of Mark. He was in so much pain and we could actually see him being an asshole, while saying in his mind “Why am I acting this way?” There was a realness to his character that just can’t be overlooked. And I loved the relationship with Hanna. They are very different, and yet very similar. In most books, I would expect Hanna and Mark to cling to one another, but Mark alienates her at times so well that it took me by surprise. I love the progression that their relationship took throughout the book. It was natural and felt like something that would happen when you’ve grown up with one another and lose a third to your friendship.
I really enjoyed Arcos writing — it flows well and was really easy to fall into. She had some great lines, but the entire sum was just well written. Even so, the book is more character than plot — it is about Mark and Hanna finding who they are and whether or not that is together or individual.
This one didn’t impact me as much as some of the other 2014 contemporaries emotionally (aka crying mess, sobbing on the floor kind of impact), but it was one that touched my heart. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from Arcos in the future.
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