Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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For fans of Jandy Nelson and Jenny Han comes a new novel that asks, can you possibly know the person you’re becoming if you don’t know the person you’ve been?
Addison Sullivan has been in an accident. In its aftermath, she has memory lapses and starts talking to a boy that no one else can see. It gets so bad that she’s worried she’s going crazy.
Addie takes drastic measures to fill in the blanks and visits a shadowy medical facility that promises to “help with your memory.” But at the clinic, Addie unwittingly discovers it is not her first visit. And when she presses, she finds out that she had certain memories erased. She had a boy erased.
But why? Who was that boy, and what happened that was too devastating to live with? And even if she gets the answers she’s looking for, will she ever be able to feel like a whole person again?
I was completely unprepared for how much I loved Everyone We’ve Been. It was a preorder that I made months in advance, which meant that I’d forgotten what it was about by the time it got to my doorstep. Upon reading the synopsis, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it because it sounded quite similar to Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not. But it turned out to be quite different and I really, really enjoyed it.
This book is written from the perspective of Addie and the novel starts with her getting into an accident. Soon after, she starts seeing this mysterious boy around but what’s most troubling is that nobody else can see him. As Addie tries to figure out who and what he is, she discovers that she’s had someone important erased from her memory at the Overton Institute, which specialises in memory erasure. Together with Addie, we find out the story of her past and why she had this particular person erased. What I loved most about this book was the dual timelines. This novel is written in mostly alternating chapters of before and after. In the before timeline, which takes place a year before the accident, we follow Addie as she falls in love with Zach, the boy whose family owns the local movie store. We get to see them fall in love and I thought it was an extremely sweet story about first love (at least for Addie). In the after timeline, we follow Addie as she tries to figure out what happened to her and as she comes to terms with the fact that there are significant events in her life and significant parts of her identity that are missing from her memory. I really enjoyed that the novel explored identity this way and the question of whether past events (remembered or forgotten) have an effect on who we are and who we will become. I thought these dual timelines worked very well together and led to a very nice reveal at the end of the novel about what really happened to lead to Addie choosing to erase certain memories.
What I didn’t enjoy so much about the plot was how similar some of the elements were to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There were a few too many similarities for my liking and at times, it was a little hard to get over them. But I was still able to look past these similarities and enjoy the plot. I highly enjoyed the family elements and the friendship elements in the book. They really stood out to me and made the novel a lot more deep and emotional. The balance between family, friendship and romance was really good and it made the story for me. There were also some plot twists that I did not see coming at all and I thought they were extremely effective at keeping me immersed in the story.
I was a big fan of the romance in this book, which set me up for a lot of heartbreak. I knew from the synopsis that Addie had erased a boy from her memory so I had kind of prepared myself for the worse, but the reveal at the end still tore me up. For those of you who are terrified right now, I should reassure you that the ending/development of their relationship isn’t even that sad… I just connected with the pair of them so much that it hurt me immensely when I found out what had happened. I’m being super vague here but I really don’t want to spoil! The ending of the novel was very realistic and I thought it was a fantastic end to the story because it left me thinking about it for days and days.
Everyone We’ve Been was a great exploration of identity and I loved that it was explored through dual timelines. It had a wonderful love story that my heart connected with and refused to let go of. I highly enjoyed the plot, even though I did find it to be a bit too similar to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in some places.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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