But Then I Came Back – Estelle Laure – HMH Books – Published 4 April 2017
Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?
This companion novel to This Raging Light returns readers to the same cast of loveable characters and the same incredibly lyrical writing, but also brings new possibilities and ideas in a story of facing life, understanding death, and finding hope.
Eden Jones has been in a coma for weeks, but to her it feels like only a small amount of time has passed. She has to come to terms with life as it is now – her best friend dating her brother, no more ballet, smoothies and shakes instead of solid food, and mood swings that drive her crazy. She has questions about what comes After that no one wants to talk about, Oh, and now she can see things that no one else can see. It seems that the only person who might have answers is the girl in the hospital room next to Eden’s – but she’s still in a coma. And then there is Joe, the sole visitor for the girl in the next room over, to whom Eden is inexplicably drawn and yet seems so untouchable.
I don’t know why, but it wasn’t until quarter way through this book that I realised that Lucille was the Lucille from This Raging Light. And that meant Digby was Digby, the brother of her best friend with whom she wasn’t supposed to fall in love. And Eden, now our main character, was Eden the best friend, who slipped, cracked her head and entered a coma in the last section of This Raging Light. It was Wren’s name and a sentence about her cooking dinner that finally triggered my admittedly slow brain to catch up. For some reason I hadn’t pegged this book as a companion novel. And in a way, it doesn’t have to be. It is its own story, complete in its own right, but it is also seamlessly woven into This Raging Light.
So I decided to reread This Raging Light first before finishing But Then I Came Back. And I’m so glad, because 1) This Raging Light is awesome and I loved rereading it and 2) it’s all there. Eden’s accident and coma. Her references to her brother and best-friend’s relationship, even her early coming out of a coma haunting – except from Lucille’s perspective. It really makes But Then I Came Back so much more amazing. I loved that we readers now get to discover Eden’s story and that at the same time we can continue Lucille, Wren and Digby’s story.
Eden is an intriguing narrator. This is her story and she tells it like she wants to. She is juggling a lot of issues, both from before her accident as well as from the aftermath, including her strange new ‘visions’.
This book combines romance, family relationships, and magical realism, as well as Eden’s. self-…not so much discovery as affirmation, as she questions her existence and purpose. But Then I Came Back is a beautiful novel that only confirms Estelle Laure as a very talented author.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Friendship, family, coma, head injuries, romance, Afterlife
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f***, s***, bit**.
Published: 4 April 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 320 pages.