When We Were Young – Review

img_8584Many thanks to Howard Books for a review copy of this novel!

Karen Kingsbury can write a page-turner, that’s for sure. This is only the second book I’ve read of hers but it’s clear each story she writes is a quick read. I was eager to read this modern rendition of A Christmas Carol this season. The Dickens’ Classic is one of my favorite stories, simply because all of us have a little Scrooge inside of us. Sometimes we need a wake-up call to get our lives back on track or if only to remind us to show gratitude for the lives we have been given. When We Were Young definitely hit the nail on the head in that regard.


What if you could see into the future and know what will happen tomorrow if you really walk out that door today? Pay attention. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

From their first meeting, to their stunning engagement and lavish wedding, to their happily-ever-after, Noah and Emily Carter were meant to be together. Theirs is a special kind of love, and they want the world to know about it. More than a million adoring fans have followed their lives on Instagram since the day Noah publicly proposed to Emily. But behind the carefully staged photos and encouraging posts, their life is anything but a fairytale, and Noah’s obsession with social media has ruined everything. 

Distraught, Emily reaches out to her friend Kari Baxter Taylor and tells her the truth: Noah and Emily have decided to call it quits. He is leaving in the morning. 

But when Noah wakes the next day, everything is different. Emily is gone and the kids are years older. Like Scrooge’s experience in A Christmas Carol, bizarre and strange events continue throughout the night so that Noah is certain he’s twenty years older, and he is desperate for a second chance. 

Now it would take a miracle to return to yesterday. 

When We Were Young is a rare and beautiful love story that takes place in a single day. It’s about the gift of knowing what tomorrow will bring if you really walk out that door today.

I appreciated the message of this story and found it completely refreshing as I began and finished reading. Marriage is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, something I’m passionate about. Unfortunately, in our world, divorce is rampant. It seems like every other person I know has been through the experience – as if it’s become society’s next step in life after entering a union. Just as a divorce affects every person a couple knows, a great marriage can too. My husband’s and my goal is to encourage others by being an example of a healthy marriage, especially to young couples. If young people can see not just love, but loyalty still exists, there is hope. As I read this book, I was refreshed to see this message being woven into the story. Marriage is worth fighting for, plain and simple.

Not only did I love the encouragement for marriage, but I appreciated the reminder to get our noses out of our screens and spend quality time with those we love most. Social media is addictive, it’s something I’ve experienced the effects of, along with probably more than half of our society, though many would be reluctant to admit it. I recently read an article likening the effects of social media on our brains to that of cocaine usage – a scary thought for those of us attempting to live addiction-free lives. It’s no wonder our time in the virtual world is creating a barrier in our real-life relationships. This book allowed readers to see, possibly a drastic view, of how damaging our online lives can become if our impulses are too challenging to control.

I hate to have a complaint about a book that resonated with me and featured important and life-changing lessons, but unfortunately, there are a few, forcing me to dole out three stars instead of five. I felt as if nearly the entire middle of this novel could have been skimmed over, due to the repetitive nature of the story. Similar phrases and plot points were overused, rather than edited out. The characters felt flat and all featured the same type of near-perfect Christian persona. The writing style was very simple, giving the story a “Hallmark feel”. This can be great for making this book accessible to readers of all ages and reading levels, but I needed a little more depth. I also feel as if Karen’s stories err on the dramatic side, making the story feel incredibly fictional. Despite these issues, I think this book will serve its purpose and features a great message. I certainly found the implication to be more present and attentive in my marriage a great reminder. I also enjoyed the tie-ins with previous novels, though this reads as a stand-alone. Now I’m passing this one along to my mother-in-law, who I think has read all of Karen’s books seventeen times each. 😉

Purchase on Amazon!


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