What If by Rebecca Donovan, published by Penguin on 22nd January 2015
What if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time?
Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago. Except this girl isn't Nicole.
She looks exactly like Cal's shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she's hiding, the less he wants to know.
When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.
'What If' is a wonderfully captivating book which will touch your heart and make you treasure life and each and every step you take on your journey. The book's message is about living life to the full and living the life you want. This really resonated with me and made me want to be more bold and carefree and to appreciate happiness, rather than waiting for happy to come along.
A young-adult standalone from Rebecca Donovan, author of the Breathing trilogy, I have been waiting to read this book ever since I first heard about it. I now want to recommend it to everyone for the very positive message it contains, as well as for it being such a fantastic contemporary read. It made me laugh, smile and cry. It tugged at my heartstrings and had me reading long into the night.
It has an intricately layered narrative structure which took a bit of getting used to. It switches narrators and the time frame jumps backwards a lot but it was so cleverly executed that I soon found myself not taking much notice of this. Plus, the events that the story takes us back to are extremely central to the plot and the motivations and actions of the characters.
The characters themselves are warm and real and flawed and really leap off the page. There's Cal, the main narrator of the story, along with childhood friends Rae, Richelle and Nicole. I'm not always so keen on male narrators, but I grew to like Cal immediately and I think Rebecca Donovan wrote him exceptionally well. Cal is at college when he meets Nyelle Preston - a girl who looks exactly like Nicole but acts in a completely different way. Their personalities are polar opposites. I don't want to say anything else about the plot except to say that this is a story you will want to puzzle out on your own. It has a surprising twist at the end but it's a treat to try and unravel.
'What If' is a brilliant romance that will make you question your actions and the what ifs of your own life. Gorgeously written, it will take you on an incredible journey that you will not want to miss.