Review: How She Died, How I Lived

“I’ve heard people say, when they found out about some violent thing done to a woman, “What if that happened to your mother or sister?” And I always want to ask them, “But what if that happened to some ugly old bag-woman who drooled when she talked? Would that make it somehow okay? Does she only matter if she’s someone else’s sister or wife? What about her? Isn’t that enough?””

Rating: 4.5/ 5 stars
Format: Physical copy

Thank you to the team over at NOVL for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review!


Synopsis

38724428I was one of five. The five girls Kyle texted that day. The girls it could have been. Only Jamie–beautiful, saintly Jamie–was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed.

On the eve of Kyle’s sentencing a year after Jamie’s death, all the other “chosen ones” are coping in various ways. But our tenacious narrator is full of anger, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.

Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie’s boyfriend–knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?


The Verdict

tw: mentions of rape, murder, graphic descriptions of murder

Never in my life have a reached out to an author after finishing a book until now. That’s how powerful I felt this story was and I am so incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to read this.

Our narrator struggles throughout the entire story with why she got to live and Jamie had to die. When the murder trial re-opens one year after Jamie’s death to determine if her murderer, Kyle, should receive the death penalty, the MC then starts to struggle with coming face to face with the man capable of such a horrific crime and ultimately knowing that she will have some part in whether Kyle gets to live or die as she testifies against him. However, at the same time she slowly starts becoming close with Jamie’s boyfriend, Charlie, and they find begin to find comfort in one another as the dreaded trial inches closer and closer.

One of the reasons I connected so much with this story so much is because I am familiar with the emotions of losing a loved one and feeling that no amount of justice will ever be fully served.  Will the death penalty serve justice? A life for a life. Or is prison enough? Either one will never bring back your loved one, but is one better than the other? It’s something that is always up for the debate and I love that this book really makes you think long and hard about this, because in my opinion it is an extremely complicated answer.

Charlie, was a bit of a complex character, and it’s easy to see why he might not be liked by some readers. He deals with grief by pushing others away which obviously is not healthy and not fair to our MC as their relationship progresses. He was very hot and cold towards her. It’s not right to push away your loved ones, but for some of us that is how we cope and I was able to relate to him a lot because of it. Towards the end of the story his grief comes out as very raw and very angry which was also extremely relatable to me. This was definintely another reason why I loved this book so much, because I was able to see a lot of myself in both the narrator and Charlie.

In case you haven’t realized, I’ve never once said the narrator’s name and that’s because you will not find it anywhere in this book. Which is why I e-mailed the author. From the very first page to the very last page I wondered what this girl’s name was, and why it was never once mentioned. The response I received from the author blew me away and further solidified my love for this book and made it a thousand times more powerful because of how this book also ties into rape culture in today’s society.

Favorite Quotes

Because I’m pretty sure the world doesn’t much care what might have happened. It’s not interested in how small I feel. To the world, I’m just another drunk girl at a party.

Most of the time, it’s like I’m…like I’m not living at all. I’m just some girl who, for whatever reason, isn’t dead yet. A girl he didn’t kill. 

I know that “capital sentence” is just his lawyer’s way of saying death. And though Kyle deserves to die for what he did, the thought that I could somehow be “helpful” in bringing about that end doesn’t give me even an ounce of relief. 

This world. This preposterously beautiful world. You’d think we could live in it without killing each other. This world. This, world, so much more than we deserve.

All in all, this book was one of the most powerful books I read in 2018 and I will be shoving this book at every single person I possibly can. I love well-written books that deal with heavy topics and this will certainly go down as one of my favorites.

Until next time,

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5 thoughts on “Review: How She Died, How I Lived

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