Immediately after reading this book, I told my friends that they had to read this book. It was one that I won't soon forget reading, as it left a lasting impression on mind and spirit. And body, really, because I stayed up quite late into the night to finish. Seeing it compared to Me Before You, I was extremely nervous. While I never read the book, I watched the movie, and the ending made me want to pick up my television and throw it across the room (which I could do at the time, as it was a glorified computer monitor). I like my romance with a happy ending. Doesn't have to be a HEA, but at least a HFN (happy for now) would suffice after so much heartache. But we didn't get that with Me Before You, and I wasn't about to put myself through that again. However, I took a chance on this book, because I adore the "love is blind" concept. I have often wished that I could be "blind" when looking for love, because our eyes often deceive our hearts. Emily Houghton understands that concept, and she gives us a romance that is worth writing home about. In fact, it's worth telling the world about.
Alice Gunnersley and Alfie Mack would probably never have met, if it weren't for their chance meeting while patients at St. Francis's Hospital. Alice was a director at financial consulting firm, while Alfie taught physical education at a high school. Alice kept contact with people at a minimum and was estranged from her mother, while Alfie made friends easily and ate dinner with his family every Sunday. The two led totally different lives, until tragic accidents of fate brought them together. As neighbors in hospital beds side by side, they developed a relationship, never having seen each other face to face. With Alice's injuries, she was sheltered from the outside world, but Alfie didn't let that get in the way of becoming friends. And then friendship turned into something more. Eventually they would heal, return home, and go their separate ways. But as that day came closer, they each realized that they may not want to let each other go after all.
The way this book was written is a stunning piece of art. The reader is treated to two distinct points of view, but you don't really feel like it. Instead, you literally become the two characters. It was so easy to immerse myself in their heads, and I never felt any sort of awkward transition when switching between the two characters. Alice was hardened by life, and she saw no need to make friends, especially once she realized that people would see her damaged body when they looked at her. The last person she wished for was Alfie, but in her heart, that's exactly who she needed. Alfie was a friendly, respectful man who loved others almost unconditionally. Honestly, if anyone were to be nominated for sainthood, it would be sweet Alfie Mack. The lovable man who, despite having witnessed the horrific deaths of his two friends and losing his own leg, still looked at the world with a smile on his face. He saw Alice's gruff exterior for what it was - a shield. And he wanted to convince her that she didn't need it anymore. This story was, by no means, without its ups and downs. Sometimes I wanted to shake Alice, and other times I wanted to give her a hug. Sometimes I wanted Alfie to be less idealistic, and others times I wished he could spread that positivity to the world. They were both such amazingly well-written characters, and the only nitpick I have with this entire story is the ending. It was so abrupt. Yes, it was a HFN ending, but I am really hoping we have another book to look forward to. I need more Alfie and Alice. We all do.
This book is a must-read for 2021. After the last year we've all had, we deserve this book.
**I received a free copy from the publisher and this is my honest review.**