As I finished this book on a middle school field trip to Six Flags, my husband (a teacher) leaned over and mentioned that the two most recent books he’d read were written in present tense (like “The Storied life of A.J. Fikry”) and he wasn’t a fan.
Honestly, I hadn’t even noticed the variation, but once he mentioned it… it was a bit distracting. It made me wonder why an author would choose to write in present tense instead of past tense. Is this a purposeful decision? One based on artistic license? One based on standards proposed by some fancy college?
Fortunately, I greatly enjoyed the characterization of this book, and was able to fall back into the seamless conversations amongst the main characters. It took me only a week to read this book – I couldn’t wait to find out more about A.J. and his – SPOILER ALERT! – adopted daughter. I worried about Ismay and her troubled marriage to – SPOILER ALERT – a creepy, too-old-to-be-dating-young-people-and-he-is-married husband… I hoped Amelia would fall for A.J. and have a happy ever after.
I was devastated when – SPOILER – (ok… read no further if you plan to read this book. Got it? I can’t promise to not ruin it. In fact I will ruin it, because… I must share with someone my heartbreak about what happens next. AND I don’t usually read rom-coms or stories about people who are doing peopley things because… yawn… but I was drawn to this one because BOOK STORE OWNER OWNS ORIGINAL COPY OF POE BOOK! OMG!) – ALERT – A.J. found out he had brain cancer. The whole Ismay/Daniel/Maya plot twist surprised me… but A.J. losing his brain… got me.
Then I began to understand the present tense of the story – We all have one life to live. We need to live in the “now” – not in the past. If we wait to tell our story later… Someone else may need to tell our story… or… worse… there may not be a story at all…
I still only partially loved this book – I HATED the last two pages… Introducing a new character that far in is on my sh*t list… but I know I will think of it often. I will remember the characters and their desires to live happy lives.
Who doesn’t have the same wishes for those they love, really?