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ARC Book Review: ‘Another Life’ by Robert Haller

Title: Another Life

Author: Robert Haller

Pages: 352 pages

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

⭐️⭐️

This is Robert Haller’s debut novel and I was lucky enough to be granted this book off of Netgalley.

It’s the first night of summer vacation, and fifteen-year-old Laura Swanson is out with her friends, looking for trouble. But in her sleepy town in upstate New York, the most exciting thing happening is the return of Paul Frazier, once the leader of a legendary high school band and a mysterious recluse, living with his mother. What the kids don’t know is that Paul spends most of his time in bed these days, coping with anxiety. Broke and jobless, he’s come home from New York City to find his mom has been born again-again. But when he can no longer ignore his college student loan statements, Paul takes a job running the sound at his moms church. The same church where April Swanson, Laura’s single mother, runs the Vacation Bible School. Nearing forty, April is feeling discontent with another summer planning crafts and regurgitating Bible stories. Thirteen-year-old Benjamin Waid is also feeling dissatisfied with his summer. He’s forced to attend VBS and still adjusting to his new foster-brother, DeShawn, a quiet, brooding boy from an ungentrified part of Brooklyn. When April and Paul sleep together one late, wine-filled night, they wake up the next morning with their lives placed on a new trajectory. Meanwhile April’s Daughter isn’t without her own secrets. Online, Laura has been posing a middle-aged woman, developing a relationship with a strange man. When he asks to meet in person, Laura is torn. She never planned it to go this far, but as life around her is making little sense, Laura feels she might do something drastic. The summer wears on: Benjamin and DeShawn uncover secrets running under the surface of this small town; April and Paul’s affair will bring them to the edge of what they know and believe; Laura’s internet life collided with her real one, leading her to strange and dangerous places.

‘Paul had been up most of the night, lying in bed thinking dark thoughts and then driving around the empty sleeping town, thinking darker ones. But he wasn’t tired. Yes, he would probably stay in bed until late in the day, with the window shades pulled down and the lights off, but not because he felt like sleeping – he just didn’t feel like doing anything else.’

This story is told through the perspective of four characters, April, Paul, Laura and Benjamin. And I have to say none of them really resonated with me. The only perspective I was interested in by the end was Laura’s and that disappointed me. I thought the ending of her story was silly. There was also to many sub characters and their problems to deal with. I think four main protagonists was enough.

There was just no emotional involvement for me, the characters weren’t likeable or unlikeable, they were just a bit blah. It was something out of nothing for me. I took nothing away from this book.

As for the story, my god it was full of cliches. It was one cliche after another. It was unoriginal, unimaginative and I hate to say it a bit boring. It was all just lacking, there was no plot twist. You could see what was going to happen a mile off.

However, I always try to look for something positive in a book. I can’t be too negative. I liked the way Robert Haller wrote about depression and anxiety. I thought it was very real and true. It really captured the feeling of depression and anxiety.

Would I recommend this book? I wouldn’t. Whilst it was a quick read, I couldn’t wait for it to be over and I don’t think it’s a book I’ll remember.

I received this book from Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing in return for an honest, unbiased review. It comes out June 4th.

Until the next review

JTH

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