Review: My Second Life by

Monday, January 11, 2016

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: January 19th, 2016
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Source: eARC from Netgalley
Pages: 304

Summary (from Goodreads):

A pacy pageturner that asks: Can you be held responsible now for something you did in a previous life?

Fifteen-year-old Ana has a good life--she has friends and a boy she likes and a kind mother--but still, she's haunted by her past; she knows that she lived once before as a girl named Emma, and she still misses her old family. When, by chance in her life now, Ana meets a woman she knew in her previous life, a terrifying memory flashes through her mind of a young girl drowning. Was Emma responsible? And should Ana pay the price? Consumed by guilt, Ana sets out to find out as much as possible about the person she was before and what she had done, only to discover that the family she misses so deeply had dark secrets of its own. To come to terms with her life now, Ana must figure out how to let go of the past.

I picked this book up because the topic was really interesting to me. For awhile, I was really into the show The Ghost Inside My Child, and this book reminded me of that show. But it really didn't work for me. I thought that it was relatively boring, INCREDIBLY repetitive, and just generally not for me.

Ana is your average fifteen year old girl except that she knows that she has lived before. When she stumbles across Frances Wells in the hospital while visiting her grandmother, a flood of horrible memories is unleashed. She has feelings of intense guilt because she knows that she did something awful. She killed someone. I really don't know what to say about Ana. She is dealing with something that you can't just talk to anyone about. Who is going to believe her when she says, "So yeah, I used to be Emma Trees, but I died and now I was reborn as me!" She doesn't want to talk to her mom, who she calls Rachel, because she doesn't know how to tell her without letting her know that she doesn't feel like Rachel is truly her mother, but she doesn't want to hurt her like that. So she turns to Frances Wells. She goes to visit her multiple times at her house because she feels like they must have crossed paths for a reason.

I really don't understand why she kept wanting to go talk to Frances about this. Frances takes every opportunity she can to just generally be awful to Ana. There are hard feelings there, but still. She is desperate for answers as to why she feels so awful and what she actually did.

Ana and Rachel have an alright relationship. Her mom is present in her life. They actually do things together. They have a bit of a strained relationship. Ana won't hug Rachel back, she's never called her mom. She really doesn't consider Rachel to be her mom, she considers her first mom to be her real mom and desperately longs for her. It's sad for everyone, I think. 

Ana also has some friends that are VERY briefly mentioned like once. Maybe twice. There is a boy that she likes from school, Jamie, that likes her back. They start hanging out in the beginning of this book, but their relationship is so far back on the burner, that this book would be exactly the same if the romance were cut entirely out of this book. I didn't see any point to including it. It didn't even really strike me as cute.

This whole book builds up to the big reveal of what exactly Ana did in her past life that has been eating away at her. It truly felt anticlimactic to me. You spend the entire book reading repeatedly about the details that she remembers. There will be the occasional extra small detail added, but overall, it is the same thing she is remembering over and over and over and I really got so sick of reading about that that I didn't even care anymore when it came around.

More examples of repetitiveness, like at least once per chapter, Ana talks about how she feels so sick or she's so tired, or how she can't sleep at all. And just the writing in general had a repetitiveness to it. For example, here is a quote from the book (she is having a nightmare, there are no real bears in the book):

"And even in the brightness I can see he is coming for me, and then - just as if someone had flicked a switch in my head - I decide not to be afraid. I decide to face it; to face the bear. I think to myself, I'll face it and see what happens."

I can think of several other examples in this book where things were written like this. I also noticed that this book is written in a lot of short sentences. I really didn't care for either of these things.

Overall, I don't think that this was a terrible book, it just wasn't for me. If you're interested in reincarnation stories, you might like this. I think that this book would probably be better for readers who are a bit younger, just because of the writing. But it does have mentions of suicide in it. Also, I know that people like to find books where the parents are actually present, Ana's mom is an important presence in this book!

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