This is the latest offering by Justin A. Reynolds, an author whose work I always enjoy. It’s difficult to classify this book…I was thinking maybe magical realism? But on second thought, I think I’d go with contemporary with a touch of sci-fi.
So the story follows a young man named Jamal. He once had a best friend named Q (which was short for Quinn), but we learn right away that somehow Jamal blames Q for his parents’ death two years earlier and hasn’t spoken to Q since the funeral. Now Q resents Jamal and feels abandoned by him, so we have a very messy relationship dynamic.
So one night, Jamal is walking by the water, and he hears a cry for help. He dives in to rescue the person, and of course, it’s Q. He begins dragging Q to shore but ends up losing strength on the way. He makes it, but Q is unconscious but alive. Jamal heads to the hospital, where he learns that Q has died.
But that’s not the end of our story because, you see, there is a new technology that would allow Q to be reanimated — that is to say, to be brought back to life with no memory of his death or of what happened to him. But there’s a catch: he’ll only be alive for a short time: a couple of weeks max, maybe only days, and once that time has passed, he’s gone for good.
Jamal discusses this possibility with Q’s mom, and she agrees to have the people in charge of this technology — it’s not the doctors at the hospital — bring Q back to life. But there is a stipulation: nobody is to tell Q that he died nor that his days are numbered.
I love redemption stories, and that’s kind of what we have here as Jamal has one more chance to make things right with Q. What’s interesting is that in so doing, Jamal ends up creating a new type of family that supports him and surrounds him with love. I thought this aspect of the story was incredibly moving. So we have a significant focus on friendship and family in the novel as well as forgiveness.
My huge takeaway from this story was how we are all on limited time with the people we love, and now is the time to focus on making these relationships and the moments of our life count. So imagine how you would do if you only have a few days left? We definitely see the importance here of “seizing the day.”
But I will say that this story is incredibly sad, so be sure to have tissues handy. This is kind of like “They Both Die at The End” by Adam Silvera in that we know how it’s all going to turn out, and I knew there’d no way I wouldn’t tear up at the end. The book is beautiful, happy, and heartfelt but also, of course, heartbreaking as well. I loved this story. I loved the entire premise of this story where a grieving young man gets a second chance to say goodbye to someone he lost and maybe even make up for some of his mistakes.
This story certainly provides a lot to think about and contemplate, such as how forgiveness can not be expected or assumed but only hoped for and, of course, the importance of living life to the fullest now because…you never know. With that in mind, it’s a reminder not to waste our time being angry and resentful with others. I remember a speaker once said that being angry about something that happened in the past is like investing in a mausoleum – it will never pay off.
This may be one of those books that I’ll need to reread at some point. It totally surprised me how it wasn’t really about death, but instead was a celebration of life, friendship, and family,
Another new favorite book by Justin a Reynolds. I love this author!