March 9, 2021
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
I was first introduced to Jill Santopolo with her 2018 novel, “The Light We Lost”. I knew- after reading that book in one sitting- that I would pick up any future book written by this author.
In her new novel, “Everything After”, Santopolo takes us on a journey to answer the famous “What if?” question we all have. What if we ended up with our college sweetheart? What if we took the chance that wasn’t safe or practical- what if we leapt?
Here we meet Emily, -who, with her husband Ezra- lives a relatively normal life in New York. She is a college psychologist and Ezra is a pediatrician and they are hoping to start a family soon. But, that proves to be harder than anticipated and when a traumatic event occurs early on, Emily begins to question her life choices. Cue fate, and Emily gets an opportunity to really ask herself what she wants out of life and with whom. In addition to all of that, add in a chance encounter with someone from the past and you’ve got yourself a nice little 336-page drama.
She flaws her characters, for sure, but the thing about Santopolo that I love most is that she never makes them seem dumb. I didn’t find myself judging Emily or Ezra or Rob (hmmmm….wondering who he is? Read it. Trust me.) at all; I thought each of them seemed very authentic in the choices they made, both past and present. We’re human; we make mistakes- even when we aren’t in college.
Told in a dual narrative – with the past being presented journal-like, in a series of letters from Emily to her child and the present in third person- it was a very easy read with short, gripping chapters. The connection between Emily and the child was so beautiful. Even more touching when the story is wrapped up. And, once again, I finished a Jill Santopolo book in one 6-hour sitting. I will continue to rave about Santopolo’s gift of taking a story and leading the reader smoothly through it, always making us wonder what would we do if we found ourselves in the same situation?
Her research of the material needed to confidently explain music to a non-musical person (seriously, 46 years old when I learned what a damper pedal was) either means she herself is musically educated or thoroughly did her homework. Either way, she made me feel the music. I heard it and I felt it- like, in my soul.
A solid 5 star read and a strong recommendation to anyone who loves music, who has ever dealt with trauma, second guessed themselves or wondered…“What if?”.