If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman
My Rating: #/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.96/5
Published February 21st, 2019 by Orion
- Life-threatening illness
Audrey is fighting an incurable illness, but her greatest fear is not dying. Her greatest fear is dying while her daughters are still estranged, and her granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. Audrey’s family is torn apart by secrets and she is determined to set everything right.
Audrey, Lilly and Jess’s stories are told from the third person limited point of view. The TOC gives a clear outline of how sections and chapters are broken down into the past and the present and how Audrey’s last year of her life progresses. And this is where the clarity stopped for me. Yes, at the table of contents.
I don’t enjoy overindulgent writing and If Only I Could Tell You is written with a lot of excessively emotional and repetitive explanations for the same thing, whereby when it comes to the personal circumstances of each character, you are told very little. This made it hard for me to relate to any of the characters, as I’ve only been given a basic overview of their lives.
The chapters are short, which at first, I thought would make it a quick and easy read, but each chapter ends abruptly and the next one starts at a random point in time. The end of each chapter left me feeling unsatisfied and takes away from the flow of the story. This book gave me the impression it was written by three different writers and then the chapters were pieced together haphazardly after the fact. I didn’t enjoy some chapters being repeated verbatim after the “big secret” was revealed; I believe this was done as a reminder to the reader of past events, but this added to the random flow of the chapters and unfortunately added to my frustration with the story.
The “big secret” is only revealed right at the end, and by this point, I wanted to shout: “just tell us already!!!!”. There is also an unexpected plot reveal about halfway and even this felt disjointed and did not tie into the story told in the first half of the book. By this point, I got the impression that the writer changed her mind about what the “big secret” should be, added another element to the story and then changed the whole plot for the second half of the book.
My final thoughts:
I picked up this book because it was described as an emotional, deeply moving read. It fell flat in several departments and I wish it had more substance to it. The concept of the story is such a great idea, but the execution didn’t live up to the hype. I am surprised I finished it, as I usually DNF books very quickly if they don’t grab my interest and attention right from the start. I kept thinking: “There is a lot of hype around this book, it’s going to get better and it’s going to be epic…” It didn’t get better…. And it was not epic.
This book might be the perfect light and fluffy beach read, if you are looking for something superficial or a palate cleanser, where you do not need to live yourself into the story too much or if you only are able to read a couple of pages a day and can fill in the substance by using your imagination.