The Things We Learn When We’re Dead

There’s a lot that I liked about this book. The plot was very unusual, in fact I’ve never seen a tale quite like this one, so Laidlaw deserves a pat on the back for that.

When Lorna dies, she ends up in heaven. Except heaven isn’t what we’d imagine. Heaven or more commonly known as HVN, is a spaceship with God as the captain. Now come on, how imaginative is that?

The majority of the crew have been on the ship for a very long time, so Lorna is a bit of a surprise. So why is she there? God tells her that everyone comes to HVN for a reason, but God won’t tell her why straight away.

It’s time for Lorna to reflect on her life and the moments that led up to her death. God says she took her life, Lorna remembers it differently. As her memory is restored, Lorna is able to look back on some of her happiest and saddest moments, which shaped the woman she is today.

I loved the concept of this book, the idea of dissecting her past through snippets of memories made for a quirky read. Although the memories were sporadic, creating a timeline which required much jumping back and forth, I felt that by the end of the book I fully understood Lorna. Reading the devastating childhood event that drove Lorna to study law, the men that passed and failed her expectations, and understanding her friendship with rich Suzie – I felt Laidlaw accomplished a mammoth task – people are complex and unique, our actions are our own and we often won’t pick up on our own flaws for years.

When God finally reveals her purpose on HVN, I wasn’t remotely surprised but even so, I was pleased that he confirmed it. Was it the right decision? Most definitely (I’ve got you intrigued now!)

When Laidlaw sent me an uncorrected copy, I expected there to be a lot of mistakes which would stop me in my tracks, but there wasn’t. Although this might seem an irrelevant point for those who are reading a final version, it’s a key factor in understanding the strength and maturity of the author’s writing technique… and Laidlaw passed the test with flying colours.

There’s a lot going on in this book, not surprising since it’s covering a person’s lifetime, but this does mean you need to pay this book your full attention, if you want to pick up the pieces to create the completed puzzle… and yes it is one of those tricky 1000 piece ones, where at times you’ll want to stop but deep down you will want to finish it.

It’s unique and it’s quirky, and with that comes complexity – creating that much of a backstory to a character requires huge amounts of imagination, determination and a knack of being able to link it all.

Until next time, Chloé x




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