Thank you to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive readers for organising this tour and to Julie Cohen and Orion Publishing for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads)
If you could look at one life in two different ways, what would you see?
Louis and Louise are separated by a single moment in time, a strike of chance that decided their future. The day they were born is when their story began.
In one, Louis David Alder is born a male.
In the other, Louise Dawn Alder is born a female.
Louis and Louise are the same in many ways – they have the same best friends, the same parents, the same dream of being a writer and leaving their hometown in Maine as soon as they can. But because of their gender, everything looks different. Certain things will happen in their lives to shape them, hurt them, build them back up again. But what will bring them back home?
Wow! Just Wow!
This novel gave me so many thoughts that I think it will be a great task for me to express them in a coherent way that does the story justice – but I’m going to try. I apologise in advance for my ramblings on this review but there’s so much I want to say.
I think at some point in our lives the majority of us have wondered what it would be like to have been born as the opposite sex. Given the opportunity, most of us would willingly love the experience, just for a day or two. After reading this book I think regardless of your sex, you’d be shocked living as the opposite.
I originally assumed this book would lean towards the side of the female protagonist (Louise) and I was totally prepared for the view that women are treat very differently, purely based on sex and gender at times. However, I was surprised and pleased to see that the male protagonist (Louis) was also portrayed in this way. Ms Cohen did a fantastic job at trying to look at the way society behaves and lays expectations on both sexes. Additionally, there is the quieter but equally important storyline of sexuality running through this book.
We are told the story of Lou (both characters) from birth. Ms Cohen uses very subtle but powerful writing and dialogue to show how from this point, the expectations of each child is different and this continues into adulthood. Through childhood into adulthood we see the stories running parallel but different in many ways.
sexuality is a strong but cleverly written theme of the story too and it takes a close look on how difficult this can be for teenagers to manage and adults to reconcille. In this story, we see how it seems easier and more acceptable for a female than a male to come to terms with and I think this is one of the clever ways in which Julie shows empathy for Louis.
The book has strong supporting characters who also change between the two stories. This is a clever device showing that we are not solely in control of our lives – we are often the product of our surrounding and our experiences. In reverse, it also demonstrates the impact that people have on others. Nobody is ever a product solely of themselves.
I’m reluctant to say more as I don’t want to add spoilers.
This is a book that everyone should read. It’s a book that should spark conversations everywhere and it’s a book that needs to be shouted about. From the very beginning it sends you on a reflective journey and at times, you may not like or be comfortable with what reflects back.
If you want to see more reviews by other brilliant (and probably more coherent) bloggers than me, follow the tour.
Author Bio (Taken from Authors Website)
I grew up in the western mountains of Maine, in a small town where the sulfur scent of the paper mill was called ‘the smell of money’. My house was just up the hill from the library, and I spent many hours walking up and down that hill, my nose in a book. I wanted to be a writer, and to have my book on the shelf of the Rumford Public Library.
I wrote my first novel at the age of 11. It was about a girl wizard and was more or less a genderflipped imitation of Ursula LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. I wrote it by hand in a spiral-bound notebook and included illustrations and maps.
I studied English Literature at Brown University in Rhode Island and Cambridge University in the UK, and then did an M.Phil. degree by research on fairies in Victorian and Edwardian children’s literature. As this had very few practical applications, I became a secondary school English teacher. It was about at this point that I realised that if I wanted to become a novelist, I should probably start writing novels.
At first, I failed. In my previous life I had always been pretty good at what I tried to do, so it was difficult when my novels kept getting rejected. I didn’t know then what I know now: that writing is a process of getting a good idea and then failing to execute it. The wrong words always come before the right ones.
I’ve kept writing and kept writing and eventually I’ve found some of the right words. My novels have been translated into seventeen languages and sold a million copies worldwide. My books TOGETHER and DEAR THING were both Richard and Judy Book Club picks.
I teach creative writing workshops—for The Guardian, Literature Wales, and Writers’ Workshop, among others—and run my own fiction consultancy and mentoring business, with many of my clients going on to publication. Some have become international bestsellers. Despite not being able to draw, I’m also the official cartoonist for the Sherlock Holmes Journal.
I live in Berkshire with my family and a dog. And every year I bring a copy of my latest book to the Rumford Public Library, and they put it on the shelf.
I am a Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a founder member of our Rainbow Chapter for LGBQIA+ writers. I am very proud to be Patron of local literacy charity ABC to Read, who help children in Berkshire primary schools learn to read.