Title: Dear Lily
Author: Drew Davies
Length: 281 pages
This is the first book I’ve read from Drew Davies. It’s his second novel, the first being ‘Shape of Us’. I was excited to read this one and couldn’t wait to get started.
It’s me, Joy, your much wiser and (very slightly) older sister. I thought I’d start a new tradition of letter writing – now that we’re long distance. On the plane over here, I began to cry in seat 21C. I think the magnitude of it finally hit me, after everything that happened… I haven’t even unpacked yet – the only thing I’ve taken out of my suitcase is Harville, your beloved childhood teddy. Sorry for stealing him, but I need him more than you do. Every time I look at that little brown bear I think about our childhood. Remember the dance we made up to the Annie’s ‘Its a Hard Knock Life’? (Remember the broom choreography?) I’m also sorry for abandoning you – I’ve always been your agony aunt, and a buffer in your infamous shouting matches with Mum. But I had to leave, Lily. I had to. Anyway, I’m here now. I’m here to start over, and to face up to the past. I want to learn to laugh again, and to find someone to love who will maybe even love me back. You always told me I was just getting by, not actually living, so I’m finally doing it. Wish me luck, little sister.
‘ I did realise, the moment you were gone, how happy we were with each other and that I should have appreciated the happiness more, celebrated it even – the times you’d check in with me if I was having a stressful week, all those stupid emojis I’d send you if you were a bit down, the heartbreaks and hangovers. It happened so suddenly, you going. There were no parting words, no farewell note. Poof, and you were gone.’
Dear Lily is told entirely through letters, to Lily from Joy, and it’s what give this book all its charm. It’s a format we don’t see often and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, but I really enjoyed it. The letters are so charismatic, witty, heartfelt and poignant. That’s how ‘Dear Lily’ reads.
The story is told through the perspective of Joy. She is likeable, funny and strong, yet you get this sense in her letters that there’s a sadness beneath her words, beneath her stories. I honestly felt like an old friend was writing me letters. It’s a testament to the great writing and characters in this book.
At the beginning of the book, we find Joy moving to Denmark, to get away from something, looking for a fresh start. You join Joy on a enjoyable journey starting her new life. I like that in a book. Each letter continues to reveal where Joy’s at in her life, and a bit more of the heartache she had to escape.
As each letter begins to reveal more about the heartache Joy went through this book becomes more and more heartfelt. When the reason Joy is writing these is revealed, it’s so impactful. It was heartbreaking. It was done in such a subtle, sensitive way. It wasn’t there for shock value. It was understated, but the emotions behind it were so real. It’s the core of the story. The core of Joy. Her trying to move on. It really made it all make sense.
Drew is such a fantastic writer, at the beginning of this book, he had me laughing out loud within the first few pages (which actually never happens). But later in the book, when certain aspects of the story were revealed, I was in floods of tears. Grab your tissues for this bit. This story has so many layers, that really capture your heart. It’s wonderful.
Drew writes about grief, in such an honest, raw way. It took my breath away. I lost my mum a year ago, it was sudden and heartbreaking. And Drew taps into all the emotions I felt..There are only a few writers who I’ve found that have dealt with grief in such a real way. Everyone who has lost someone to soon, feels the emotions of this quote below. I mean, just read theses quotes. They show the talent that Drew has.
‘ Why wasn’t there enough time? Mum had our future all mapped out. I had it all mapped out too. You ruined them, Lil. You went and left, and it’s so unfair of you, because there was so much more.’
I’ve seen some people describe this as a quick beach read, but I think that does it a slight disservice. But by all means, read it by the beach, by a pool on holiday, by the fire, in your bed, with your bookclub. Just read it. However I think ‘Dear Lily’ is more than that. This book has something to say. It packs more of a punch than just some frothy read.
I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. It broke my heart and put it back together again. I’m looking forward to whatever Drew writes next, I’ll be reading it.
This book was given to me via Netgalley and Bookouture in return for an honest, unbiased review. It comes out May 17th and you can preorder now.
Until the next review