The Girl I Used to Be, a review by Shelley

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Debbie Howells

Boldwood Books
Publishing October 19th, 2022
350 pages
Amazon | Goodreads  

I read and loved The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells and was really excited to get this one from NetGalley. Unfortunately, I was left feeling very disappointed and I found it hard to get into this book, it was very slow going. I do enjoy the find your teen/first love trope and I appreciated the format of the book. This one is told past/present via flashbacks (note to publisher I did not like the italic chapters) and I was pleased getting to know Anna and Will’s romantic backstory.

I didn’t like that Anna was still married while she pursued Will. I know her husband, James is an arse and he deserved to be left but do the leaving first, before you start something new, or even better be on your own first and get your head together. The same can be said for Will. If I were Anna I would never have gone back to Will in the first place, he too is an arse as he kept leaving her hanging over and over again…“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I found both Will and Anna to be whiners and complaining all the time instead of doing something about it.

I did like the fact that we get both Will’s and Anna’s perspectives, there was a lot of internal dialogue from both of them and I felt that I got to know them well, they were normal, real human beings, flaws and all. It also helped me try to understand their dilemmas and their thought process for what they were doing. Watching Anna and Will grow into the people they really want to be was a joy to read and I really liked that both of them put their daughters front and center, that is a very redeeming quality. Will’s ex, Darcey was a piece of work though, as she used her daughter to get back at Will and that’s a low blow and shameful.

I think I had so many thoughts and feelings about this one because I divorced when my kids were small and would never do some of the things these two did. I liked the author’s other book so much though that I’d be willing to give her another chance and look forward to what she comes up with next.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Readers Copy.

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