To enjoy this book, you’ve first of all got to accept the central premise that Joel has foresight: he can predict what’s going to happen to his friends and family in the future. If you’re going to spend the whole time yelling at the pages ‘but this is ridiculous, no-one can predict the future‘, I suggest this may not be the novel for you.
Once you’ve got that sorted, there is a lot to enjoy. Which is not what I was expecting to say, as romance is not usually my thing. In books I mean, not in life!
The love story between Joel and Callie is a slow burner, but I found it more credible as a result. The couple meet when Callie is working in a cafe and Joel is a customer, noticeable because he falls asleep at the table. Unbeknown to Callie, his night-time dreams of the future are so all-consuming, he tries to avoid them by surviving on as little shut-eye as possible. The main reason for the romance developing slowly though, is that Joel knows something bad is going to happen and, as a result, he doesn’t want to commit to the relationship. To add to the tension, the reader has no idea what Fate has in store. Joel’s advance warning causes him to take a drastic, heartbreaking decision.
As a story, I was swept along by this writing and really cared about the characters. The plot is simple with an ambiguous ending, which wasn’t a problem for me. What lingers after the last page though, is the searching question about whether you’d embark on a love affair, knowing when and how it would end. Not a vague notion of maybe it won’t work out, but the specific time, date and reason.
Of course I don’t know what other readers’ answers will be: but I can’t help thinking that we all know a romance is going to end. Whether that be in a few weeks, years or even decades, it will come to an end. Whether you part amicably or acrimoniously, for any number of reasons, or till death do you part, nothing is forever, not even the love of your life. Yet most of us take that risk time and time again. Maybe the truth is in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s words that ultimately, “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. I, for one, have always been willing to take that chance on love.