Book Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

two lives of lydia bird book review
two lives of lydia bird book cover

Title: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird
Author: Josie Silver
Release Date: January 30, 2020
Ballantine Books
Contemporary Romance
Pages: 369
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Borrow It
Disclaimer: Mild spoilers.

summary book review

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.

But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

Written with Josie Silver’s trademark warmth and wit, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a powerful and thrilling love story about the what-ifs that arise at life’s crossroads, and what happens when one woman is given a miraculous chance to answer them. (Goodreads)

Thoughts book review

I’m not crying. I just have allergies. That’s why there’s tears streaming down my face, I swear.

Okay, okay, you got me. Did I cry through this entire book? Hard yes. I cry at everything, really it doesn’t take much. But was this book freaking sad? Hard yes, again.

That being said, I both loved and didn’t love this book. I wouldn’t call it a genre romance book. Was there love? Yes, a whole damn lot of it. But there wasn’t a lot of romance in the sense that you usually get from a romance book. Lydia’s fiance and love of her life, Freddie, dies at the beginning of the book, so this isn’t a romantic story of Boy meets Girl. This is a story of what happens after Boy meets Girl and Boy dies. How does Girl recover from that? How does she move on from losing the one thing she thought she’d always have?

So, what this book is instead is a heartfelt portrayal of grief and loss and what it means to lose the one person that means the world to you. And then what it takes to get through that grief and learn to love again.

The one thing I absolutely loved was Josie Silver’s writing style. While I wasn’t a huge fan of her other book One Day in December due to the plot, I did fall in love with her writing style which is why I picked up this book. Her use of metaphor to represent emotions is so artfully done and it is this style that had me crying over each page. The way she uses words to conjure up emotional waterfalls inside of you is both beautiful and very very cruel. Seriously, my heart still hurts from this book.

She uses words to make every emotion, every detail, seem so real. As a writer she seems very attuned with the little nuances that make people tick like their memories, their movements, the way they say things and it really sucks you into Silver’s story.

“I will if you will,” she says, a line reminiscent of so many other days of our lives. Sledging down the hill behind the house on winter morning when we were kids, our backsides on Mum’s tea trays: I will if you will. Getting our ears pierced at the dodgy salon in the precinct when we were teenagers: I will if you will. Another drink at last orders, even though we’ve both had enough: I will if you will.”

From Awake: Sunday 20 May of The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

One of my favourite lines from the book was,“But someone I love told me that the sun is going to keep on inconveniently rising” (Awake Sunday 16 September) and that sentence really says a lot about life, Lydia, and her story. That life is going to keep on moving on and you just have to find a way to keep moving with it.

The first half of this book I couldn’t put it down, but it did slow near the end and the plot fizzled out. Sometimes it felt like the book was more focused on Lydia’s inner monologue and grief than actually moving the story along in any way. So, this is one way in which the writing too did fall flat. I know, I just gushed about how amazing it was, but it did have some faults.

There were actual chapters where it felt like nothing literally happened. The whole chapter was just Lydia thinking. In this way it felt like Silver was just beating some things over the head. Instead of showing us how Lydia was coping, Silver just kept giving us page upon page of Lydia explaining her grief. It got to be a little much after a while and slowed down the flow of the story.

Spoiler ahead, so be warned.

As well, not a whole lot happened in the plot. Especially between Lydia and her best friend-turned-lover Jonah. I have never wanted more to happen between two people than I did in this book. Just give me more. Please. Is it that much to ask for? We spend most of the progression of their relationship with Jonah half way across the world and them talking over Skype. It’s like the reader is just supposed to fill in the blanks for all the stuff the author doesn’t say. I really wanted to root for them to get together, but it just wasn’t on the page for me and so the ending fell very flat. When they finally get together it’s on the last page and it feels very anticlimactic and a bit too Hallmark ending to feel realistic.

Spoiler ends here, in case you chose to skip ahead.

So, where the emotions were wonderfully explored and displayed in this novel, the plot fell flat. And the ending was more than a little unsatisfying.

Overall, this was a pretty good book and I enjoyed it more than Silver’s first book. I can’t say enough about how much I loved her writing, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of her plot and relationship development. It wasn’t the romance I expected it to be, but it was an emotional ride I’m glad that I decided to go on. 

I would recommend this book to readers looking for a contemporary romance unlike the norm. Just, bring your tissues. Lots and lots of tissues.

Have you read this book? I’d love to talk about it. Comment below and let’s share our thoughts!

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