Publisher: Embrace on April 28, 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2014 Review Pile Reading Challenge, 2014 Standalone Reading Challenge
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Nineteen-year-old Kelsey Larkin’s parents uninvited her to her brother’s funeral. She just wanted to wear jeans and a T-shirt—the clothes Kyle would’ve wanted her in—not wrap herself up in death. So she watched the funeral from afar, like an outsider. Which is just how she feels.
Chase came, though, just like she knew he would. Until a few months ago, the three of them had been best friends, and then Chase made a mistake that shattered both families. But when Kelsey looks at him, she doesn’t see her brother’s killer. She sees the boy next door who’s always taken care of her. She sees home.
When Chase tells her his feelings run deeper than friendship, she can’t help but get lost in him. In Chase, she finally has the closure she’s been unable to find anywhere else. But the boy she’s falling in love with is still hiding secrets about the night Kyle died. Secrets that could destroy everything they have…again.
“They were waiting for me to crumble, all of them, their stares reminding me of just how close to the edge I balanced myself.”
“People feel sorry for your pain, and pain just is. It doesn’t only happen when you’re worthy of it.”
How We Lived follows Kelsey Larkin five months after her big brother Kyle dies in an accident at the hands of their best friend, Chase. Kelsey is back for a few days before she goes off for summer semester at the State University. After being uninvited by her own parents to her brother’s funeral, she is joined by Chase, who has basically been ostracized by the whole town for getting behind the wheel drunk and killing Kyle. The chemistry between the two of them is there, but can Kelsey, and her family, forgive Chase for the mistake that cost Kyle his life? And more importantly, can he forgive himself?
Books with this kind of plot are ones that you can’t help but enjoy. I can honestly say that this was not the best written novel I’ve read by far. It seemed rushed at times and some things that happened felt out of place. The path of self-redemption that Chase was on, though, made those things fade into the background. The characters in this novel and their journey are what made this novel good.
“Time would forever be told in those terms now. What happened before Kyle died, and what happened after.”
Kelsey was lost. She failed her college semester, she felt alone, and her parents were acting like they lost their only child when they lost Kyle. It was really easy for me to sympathize with her. She was a bit on the innocent side but she didn’t let anyone tell her what to do. The only comfort she found was in the man that inadvertently killed her brother, the only person in the world that she felt loved her. And yet, she forgave him anyway. Her forgiving heart is what made me love her the most. She didn’t hold the accident against Chase. She was kind and forgiving and she stuck up for him when no one would.
Chase was fighting demons. The demons that resulted from him getting behind the wheel intoxicated and killing his best friend. He aso n somewhat of a downward spiral until he started talking to Kelsey again five months after the accident. He was beating himself up over what happened and the guilt he was feeling was palpable. It was really sad to see him struggle with the things that he did. He was a redeemable character though. It was obvious that he blamed himself for what happened and would have done anything to take it back. He made something out of his grief and I admired him for it.
Chase and Kelsey had been best friends for their whole lives. Chase had loved her for a while before the novel began and Kelsey definitely felt something too. Their romance bloomed out of friendship and mutual pain for losing someone close to them. Their relationship was one of the strongest I’ve read in a New Adult contemporary novel. They basically got past accidental murder and still came out of it feeling the way that they did. Their romance was sweet. Chase didn’t think that he deserved Kelsey for the obvious reasons but that didn’t stop them. They were very good for each other and I wish that I could read more of them.
This novel revolved around a death that resulted from drunk driving. It was heartbreaking how real this novel felt. It made the sad for anyone that has ever lost someone to that type of accident. But it also showed the flip side of the coin–how it felt for the driver. It gave me an outlook that I had never really though about before: that the guilt from an event like that could be just as punishing, if not more so, than time spent in jail or prison.
Although it wasn’t the most well-written novel that I’ve read, How We Lived was still an enchanting emotional read that pulled on every heart-string that I have.