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the time of my lifeReleased: 2011

My life needed me. It was going through a tough time and I hadn’t been paying attention to it.’ How many people can identify with this statement I wonder? If ever there were a book that made you really stop and contemplate where your life was heading, it would be Cecelia Ahern’s The Time Of My Life.

Lucy Silchester is a prime example of a life neglecter.

The book begins with Lucy receiving an envelope through her letterbox. Inside is an invitation. The sender? Life itself. Yes, life in this world manifests itself as an actual living and breathing person. The idea of a physical representation of one’s life was initially difficult for me to get my head around. It was a confusing premise, not to be overthought, but once I felt comfortable with the idea I was able to enjoy the story.

Lucy’s life is not happy with her. He’s miserable, lonely, ragged (strangely her life is a man). Whilst Lucy appears on the outside to be getting on okay, her life in human form is an exact representation of how her life has actually spiralled into a sorry and sad state, fuelled by Lucy’s maddening ability to lie about almost everything and her habit of avoiding situations.

Lucy has fooled herself into believing that her life is fine, though this is merely another lie she tells herself so that she can avoid the hurt and heartache she would have to face if she admitted up to the reality. In actuality Lucy is well and truly stuck in a shambolic rut. She despises her job, yet she won’t quit.

Her small apartment is a pigsty, yet she’s reluctant to clean it. Her relationship with her parents is increasingly strained, but she won’t lift a finger to build it back together. She is completely closed off to change, absolutely convinced that all she needs to do to find that ‘happy ever after’ is get her ex-boyfriend back. This is a ludicrous plan right from the start; it just takes Lucy almost the entire book to work it out.

She goes through life telling half-truths which, as the book progresses, escalate into full-blown lies. She has lied to her family, her friends, her work colleagues and her boss, and life in human form is hell-bent on forcing her to face up to her mess of an existence. And if she doesn’t? Life is going to reveal all her lies in spectacular fashion. Honesty hurts, but it also sets you free – something human life tries to get Lucy to realise from the very beginning.

The banter between Lucy and her life is brilliant – whilst you might think they would be the exact same person, life has his own life away from our main character (confused?). Lucy is rather charming despite her downfalls. She is flawed and she makes mistakes. One thing that sticks out is that she is above all else, human. This is a true testament to Ahern’s brilliant writing.

If you don’t find yourself wanting to reach into the book and shake Lucy you have clearly missed the point of the story. Lucy isn’t supposed to be the most likeable character, but she is probably the most relatable one I’ve come across for a while. Her stubbornness irritated me throughout, yet I couldn’t help but warm to her. Stubbornness is certainly a quality I can identify with, however unattractive it is.

Ahern’s writing is charismatic and honest, her characters are sincere and the plot, however far fetched, is centred on issues we’re all familiar with. Perhaps this is what makes the book so comforting to read.

It’s not a typical, run-of-the-mill chick-lit book. It’s thought provoking, witty and heart-warming.

It leaves you with the ever-pertinent message that occasionally we have to stop and take a look around to make sure that we’re living up to what we want from life.

★★★★

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