Many thanks to Netgalley and Grand Central Pub/Forever for the chance to read this title early.
Maybe it’s morbid, but I can’t help being drawn to end-of-life books. Whether it’s old age or an untimely death by cancer, I’m a fan of those end-of-life reflections and the deep questions these books inevitably make us ponder. When I saw my friend, Megan, was reading Photos of You, I deviated from my meticulously cultivated TBR (facepalm) and knew I had to read this book. It resulted in a wonderful impromptu buddy read and, as usual with Megan, fantastic conversation.
When Ava Green turns twenty-eight, she discovers this will be her last birthday. The cancer she thought she’d beaten three years ago is back, only now it’s terminal and she’s not going to waste any of the time she has left. All she truly wants is the one thing she’s been dreaming of since she was a little girl: a wedding. There’s only one problem. She doesn’t have a groom.
Ava’s friends and family rally around her to help throw the wedding of her dreams — without the husband-to-be. As word spreads on social media, the bridal planning goes viral, attracting the attention of a prominent women’s magazine. And when a photographer volunteers to help document the whole event, it becomes heartbreakingly clear that it’s never too late to discover the love of your life.
One of the most pleasant surprises in reading Photos of You was the New Zealand setting. Somehow, I’ve never managed to read a book set on this lovely island, which provided plenty of learning opportunities. I didn’t realize how foreign New Zealand was for me, so naturally, I learned new words like Antipodean (referring to inhabitants of New Zealand and Australia) and even discovered constellations I didn’t know existed (The Southern Cross). The opposite seasons to those we experience in the Northern Hemisphere are always fun to read about as well since they’re vastly different from what we experience in say, January. In those ways, this novel was …well, novel.
As Megan and I agreed, the characters felt like real people the author might have known. Even the secondary characters in this story shined, with personalities that jumped off the pages. This made the story feel more personal and kept me rooting for everyone throughout. The romance wasn’t, for me, the main focus of the book, but it sure made me more invested in the story. I couldn’t get enough of James and his kindness. He was definitely a highlight!
I was certain this would be a tear-jerker, ugly-cry-type of story, but unfortunately, that moment never came. I hoped to be more invested in events taking place, but I found them to be quite predictable. I hoped to feel more of an emotional connection and a sense of loss after the investment of time and the love of the characters, but that link between the pages and my heart was missing.
Nonetheless, this was an enjoyable story with an excellent message. It’s always good to take a moment to take stock of our lives and be reminded of its true importance. All of us get caught up in the mundane and the trivialities of life, which helps to make books like this one so essential. I also appreciated the other lessons the author wove into the story, as well, like being one’s own advocate for their health.
Photos of You releases February 18th.
Rating: 3 stars