‘Lizzie James is happy.
She has a steady office job (with a steady stream of snacks), has had the same best friend since school, and she sees her family every Thursday night for take-away and trashy TV. Lizzie likes her uncomplicated life.
Then a letter arrives one day from her first love, Roman. A letter dated the day he disappeared, 12 years before. As Lizzie uncovers the secrets of the letter, she discovers what really happened the year her life fell apart – and all avenues lead back to Roman.
Lizzie James thought she was happy, or somewhere close to happy, anyway. Now she’s not so sure.’
Lia Louis’ debut novel tells the story of Lizzie, who has just received a letter from her old best friend, Roman Meyers. The only problem is, Roman has been missing for the past 12 years, just vanished without a trace and without a word, something that has haunted Lizzie ever since.
Both troubled teenagers at The Grove, a school and help facility for teenagers with problems such as addiction or violent tendancies, Roman was the first friend Lizzie made at the school and they were inseparable, much to the dislike of her father. The only person in their lives who seems to understand the two is Hubble, Lizzie’s beloved grandfather.
But Roman has problems in his life that even Lizzie can’t fully comprehend, issues that make it difficult for him to stay where he is.
It is only when Lizzie receives the letter and decides, with the help of her faithful best friend Priscilla, to finally track Roman down, that she begins to figure out and understand just what happened to make him decide to run.
The book tells us the story of Lizzie and her journey, and the events that happened when she was younger in a mixture of current day narrative and flashbacks to her teenage days. It is well written and I didn’t want to put it down because I was so eager to find out more about the characters, especially Roman. I was willing Lizzie to find him and get their story back on track.
It has a lot of humour, and some genuine laugh out loud moments, which is surprising given the at times sensitive subject matter – Louis manages to tackle topics such as addiction, anxiety, depression, and abortion with great sensitivity, but she also doesn’t shy away from them.
It is a bittersweet book, with a surprising but perfect ending. It really is a very promising debut novel, and I would absolutely pick up any other work by this author based on this book.
It is due to be published in June 2019, and I would recommend anyone who is a fan of light literature, with a strong female protagonist to pick it up.
*I received this advance reader copy from Netgalley on the basis that I would provide an honest review.