The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern
|The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Lost jobs, forays into the past, resolved misunderstandings... the only memorable feature of this book is a likeable sister with Down's Syndrome. Plenty of themes but not much plot. Nevetherless it's well-written and makes good bedtime reading.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 323||Date: October 2014|
|Publisher: Harper Collins|
|External links: Author's website|
Jasmine is the main protagonist of this book, and also the narrator. She’s single and has just lost her job, much to her dismay. She’s the kind of person who likes to be busy and to have a purpose in life, but the conditions of her former employment mean that she’s on a year’s ‘gardening leave’: she receives a full salary but is not allowed to start another job for a full year.
Being around in the street where she lives means that she gets to know her neighbours; in particular Matt, a controversial radio presenter who lives opposite. He regularly arrives home drunk and makes a great deal of noise. His wife is getting fed up of this and decides to move out for a while, around the same time as he, too, loses his job.
Gradually Jasmine and Matt get to know each other, though not in a romantic way. And that, basically, is the entire plot. There are other people, of course. I particularly liked Jasmine’s older sister Heather who has Down's Syndrome and is trying to be more independent. But I’m struggling to remember any of the others. I recall a few names and incidents, but nothing made any of them stand out. There’s Monday, a headhunter, who becomes a romantic interest - but I only remember him due to his name. There’s a cousin, too, mentioned in quite dramatic terms in the first chapter. But although he pops in again from time to time, he’s almost irrelevant to the story line.
There are some themes to the book: it’s divided into four sections, each featuring a season of the year, and also a season of Jasmine’s unemployment. She decides to rebuild her garden and gets quite energised by doing so; she learns something about her past and how it affects her current relationships. We learn in the first chapter that she had to grow up quite fast at a young age, but I’d quite forgotten about this by the end; it’s something else that didn’t seem terribly relevant, although there’s a sense in which this is a ‘coming of age’ story.
Cecelia Ahern’s books are all different. Some are quirky, some emotional, and some are decidedly strange. This one has the unusual quirk of being written in the second person, at least some of the time. Jasmine addresses the book to Matt - the ‘you’ of the title - which works, on the whole, and is perhaps the most memorable feature of the book. There isn’t much emotion, the characters are rather flat, and the only strange thing is that it’s almost entirely predictable throughout. Jasmine is frustrated to be out of work but soon finds other things to occupy her time. Matt is annoying but reforms rather too easily. There’s minor conflict but it’s all happily resolved; even the mildly creepy people turn out to be reasonable enough underneath.
I’m making it sound dreary, but somehow it isn’t. The author has a good writing style, with realistic dialogue; there are, despite the lack of plot, some interesting scenes. It was a pleasant way of seeing into the lives of some everyday people who were learning about themselves. It made ideal bedtime reading, one or two chapters at a time. There were no cliffhangers, no real tensions. It was easy to put down, easy to pick up again the following evening.
Read it by all means if you like this author, or if you want something easy to read to take on holiday. But don’t expect too much. Then again, the blurb on the back calls this a ‘dazzling gem’, ‘heartbreaking and uplifting’ - so perhaps I’m missing the point.
Thanks to the publishers for sending this to TheBookbag.
If you like this, you might also want to read One Hundred Names, which I enjoyed rather more. If you are keen on books with a gardening them but not much plot, perhaps Gardens of Delight by Erica James would appeal more than it did to me.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern at Amazon.com.
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