Ever read a book which stays with you long after you’ve finished it?
This book, Somewhere Close To Happy by Lia Louis, first came into my life in April. I managed to read it on NetGalley as it was a few months away from publication.
Once I finished Somewhere Close To Happy I thought the story of Lizzie and Roman would leave my mind, but it didn’t.
After the book was published I found myself in new book lover territory; rushing across Cardiff in blister-inducing shoes (I’d opted for style rather than comfort in Primark when I bought them), to Waterstones in my lunch hour (if you knew how far this was you would take a sharp intake of breath), to see whether this book was there so I could purchase and read it again. I don’t normally read books again.
I would just like to say I don’t normally huff and puff across Cardiff in uncomfortable shoes, with my deodorant on the verge of letting me down and bathed in a sticky sweat. Only for special books.
Here’s the blurb:
Lizzie James is happy.
She has a steady office job (with a steady stream of snacks), has had the same best friend since school, and she sees her family every Thursday night for take-away and trashy TV. Lizzie likes her uncomplicated life.
Then a letter arrives one day from her first love, Roman. A letter dated the day he disappeared, 12 years before. As Lizzie uncovers the secrets of the letter, she discovers what really happened the year her life fell apart – and all avenues lead back to Roman.
Lizzie James thought she was happy, or somewhere close to happy, anyway. Now she’s not so sure.
Here’s my review:
Somewhere Close To Happy has wrapped itself around my reading heart.
This tender and sometimes raw story of Lizzie and Roman is about friendship, loss, troubled teenage years, dysfunctional families, toxic relatives and how sometimes we just get a bit stuck in life.
It is rich in glorious detail and at times I felt like I was at Lizzie’s Dad’s on a Thursday evening, tucking into a steaming, homemade lasagne before heading to snuggle on the sofa, watching Eastenders while passing bourbon creams around.
I found myself slipping into Lizzie’s life with ease which I think is down to the brilliance of Lia Louis’s writing. I became like a little sponge for Lizzie’s emotion; together we got anxious about Roman, we cried, we hated Auntie Shall, we gossiped with Priscilla, we thought about Olivia’s wedding, we listened to Katie telling us we were brave and strong enough, we missed Hubble, we recalled happy days laughing with Roman and we wondered what the hell had happened to him.
I loved the cast of quirky and interesting characters. I would like to say that I am a fully fledged member of the Lizzie and Roman fan club AND I am also a proud member of the NEW Priscilla and Hubble fan club (I am setting it up). Everyone needs a Priscilla friend in their life. My goodness she’s amazing and her support for Lizzie brought a tear to my eye. When Roman called Hubble, Lizzie’s grandfather a ‘ledge’ I had to agree with him. I know Hubble only had a minor part but I grew really fond of the memory of him.
Lia Louis doesn’t shy away from some quite serious themes; mental health, grief and addiction and I think she handled them really well. This book is surprisingly uplifting and positive.
There is a strong theme of friendship running throughout the book; Lizzie and Roman supporting each other through their time at The Grove and the daily battle against their demons. Priscilla supporting Lizzie by taking her on a quest to find out what happened to Roman and not letting her give up at the first hurdle.
I liked the use of the word ‘stuck’ throughout the book; Lizzie’s mum telling her daughter that sometimes we just get stuck and how she found herself stuck living with Lizzie’s dad. Lizzie realising how stuck she has been living her dormant life and Roman being trapped and stuck with his mum, stuck at the Grove all those years ago. The book is not only about Lizzie finding out what happened to Roman but it is also about how we can get stuck in life and the things we have to work through to become unstuck.
The quest to find out what happened to Roman made me anxious in places. I liked the way Lia Louis fed me tiny clues and made me think we would find him in the next chapter. Much love for the trail which led to Cardiff and Newport from someone who lives near Newport x
I am not going to say what happens with Roman because you need to read it to find out.
This is a wonderful debut from Lia Louis which will make you alternate between laughing and crying.
If I have made you want to read more, please click here.
Lia Louis can be found on Twitter @LisforLia
3 Things I love about this author:
- She’s a happy mama to 3 children and always updates us on Twitter about how she’s doing on the mother front.
- She’s aways waiting for the nod to get into her pyjamas.
- She always gives us a baking update on Twitter.