t’s #PreFridayReads when a Tall Poppy author recommends a book she loved. So if you’re looking for a great recommendation for your #FridayReads or another book to meet your 2017 Poppy Reading Challenge, read on.

We’ll help you turn the page …

Ella Joy Olsen recommends LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson:

I’ve always loved the idea of sliding doors, near misses, or missed opportunities.

I look around my relatively boring life and think, what if we’d bought the first house we made an offer on, the one that fell through? My kids would have been in a different school district, meaning they would have a whole different circle of friends. And since we picked up most of our adult friends through our children, we would be hanging out with an alternate crowd. What would have changed, what would have been the same?

Taking that same question even larger: My novel Root, Petal, Thorn is based on the home where we live now, where my children have grown, in the neighborhood that I love, surrounded by the history of my street. Would I have even written a book if we lived in that other home?

Or there are the tiny awful moments that change everything. My sister drowned when she was twenty-one, after being overcome by carbon monoxide while swimming behind a boat. But what if she didn’t go boating that day? What if she hadn’t decided to cool off in the water? Everything would have been different for her. And for our family. And we wouldn’t have realized just how close she was to dying.

How many accidents do you almost get into, and only afterwards think, “That could have been bad.”

In Life After Life Kate Atkinson explores this concept over and over again. Of course, this is a novel, so the stakes are much higher than a change of neighborhood school districts.

We know from the first chapter in Life After Life that the main character, Ursula Todd, has a chance to kill Hitler just before his fateful rise to power. Imagine the way the world could be altered if only he was gone! But right at the critical moment, she’s killed. And then reborn.

Somewhere about life four Ursula realizes her unusual circumstances and works hard to prevent her demise. But first she’ll have to survive (again and again) being born, the Spanish Flu, drowning, and falls down the stairs. Will she ever get her shot at Hitler? Will she ever live happily ever after?

This book is so beautifully written and haunting. Every rebirth I was nibbling at my nails, wondering if she’d finally make it. It’s a book that continues to resonate with me. I think about it each time something huge happens in our world (presidential election) or each time there is a fork in the road in my own personal circumstance. Which path to take? And where will it lead?

To me, considering the What If questions of life is the power of fiction, and Life After Life does this perfectly!

Here is the official description from Goodreads:

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. 

For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best, playing with time and history, telling a story that is breathtaking for both its audacity and its endless satisfactions.

Learn more about Kate Atkinson and her numerous books at her website: http://www.kateatkinson.co.uk/

Ella Joy Olsen is the author of ROOT, PETAL, THORN (2016) and the forthcoming WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS (September 2017). When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her two dogs, or wringing her hands over one of her three teenagers.

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