The Book of Dreams
Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.After the accident, Sam--a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction--waits by his father's bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight--for hope, for patience, for life--they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, The Book of Dreams is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

The Book of Dreams Details

TitleThe Book of Dreams
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 9th, 2019
PublisherCrown Publishing Group (NY)
ISBN-139780525572534
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Adult

The Book of Dreams Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Whilst The Book of Dreams by Nina George is not perfect, there is nevertheless much to love about this profoundly moving novel about what it is to be human and just how much momentous decisions define the life path for a person. In this complex and complicated book of family drama, relationships and human emotions, ex-war reporter, Henry Skinner, is on his way to meet his estranged teenage son, Sam, when he finds himself saving the life of a young girl in the River Thames. Unfortunately the most Whilst The Book of Dreams by Nina George is not perfect, there is nevertheless much to love about this profoundly moving novel about what it is to be human and just how much momentous decisions define the life path for a person. In this complex and complicated book of family drama, relationships and human emotions, ex-war reporter, Henry Skinner, is on his way to meet his estranged teenage son, Sam, when he finds himself saving the life of a young girl in the River Thames. Unfortunately the most hellish misfortune has Henry hit by a car, and knocked unconscious and into a coma.Henry is in the intensive care unit of a London hospital where the neurologist is referred to as God. 13 year old Sam has the unusual gift of synaesthesia, meaning he is aware and can sense what others cannot. As he sits by his father's bedside, he is joined by an ex-love of Henry's, the heartbroken Eddie Tomlin, and finds himself beginning to connect with a 12 year old girl, another patient in a coma in the unit. Henry, a man with secrets, finds himself reliving aspects of his life and childhood in his dreams, including his relationships with Marie-France, Sam's mother, and Eddie, but one where different choices and decisions are made and their outcome. In a story where the four characters begin to connect, George utilises the concept of a coma about which relatively little is known to explore the different levels of consciousness, the nature of father and son relationships, love, loss and compassion. Writing in beautiful prose, Nina George asks the deepest questions about life amidst the oppressive background of hospital routines and lives hanging in the balance. The fragility of life is at the heart of this emotional drama, the need to not allow fear to determine life choices, and to truly live as opposed to sleepwalk through life. Whilst I really loved reading this novel, there were occasions for me when I found the storytelling a little too uneven. A marvellously thought provoking read with great characterisation that made the central themes come alive brilliantly in the narrative. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for an ARC.
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  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    Powerful, moving, and poetic, Nina George's newest novel, The Book of Dreams , is absolutely exquisite. It's so different from other books I've read recently, and it is one I won't soon forget."Maybe we're all stories that someone is reading, and maybe that will save us before we ultimately expire?"Henri Skinner was once a renowned war reporter whose eyes have seen first-hand the horrors of our world. Shaped by tragedy at an early age, he is a passionate person, one prone to acting before he th Powerful, moving, and poetic, Nina George's newest novel, The Book of Dreams , is absolutely exquisite. It's so different from other books I've read recently, and it is one I won't soon forget."Maybe we're all stories that someone is reading, and maybe that will save us before we ultimately expire?"Henri Skinner was once a renowned war reporter whose eyes have seen first-hand the horrors of our world. Shaped by tragedy at an early age, he is a passionate person, one prone to acting before he thinks. On his way to see his teenage son for the first time since he was an infant, he performs a heroic act, only to be struck by a car afterward. He now lies deep in a coma, hearing the voices of those he loves but also reliving his life's memories, as well as exploring the paths not taken.Sam, Henri's son, is a highly intellectual synesthete (he sees sounds as colors and numbers as sounds) who has dreamed of having his father in his life for as long as he can remember, only to be told by his mother that his father wasn't the type to depend on. When he learns of his father's accident he begins a daily vigil at Henri's bedside. Even though the doctors say they see no sign of Henri's sensing what is going on around him, Sam believes his father hasn't given up yet, and implores him to return to consciousness.While at the hospital, Sam meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman who was once deeply in love with Henri until he cruelly hurt her. She's moved on with her life but Henri had named her the executor of his living will, so she now must confront her feelings for this man to whom she once gave her entire heart. Eddie isn't sure if she wants Henri to awaken or if she is ready to say goodbye once and for all.Another patient at the hospital is 12-year-old Madelyn, who has been in a coma since she was in a car accident that killed her entire family. Even though she cannot communicate, does not give any sign that she hears or feels or sees, the hospital continues to treat her, this poor young girl without anyone to look after her. Sam is taken with Maddie, and does everything he can to try and help her back to consciousness, as he tries to do the same for his father."There are places where time is thinner, where yesterday, today, and tomorrow converge and we can feel the presence of the dead and the echo of the future." The Book of Dreams is about the thin line between life and death, of how keeping a person alive is often more for ourselves than the actual person. It's a book about love—both its presence and its absence—and how both can consume you. But more than that, this is a book about relationships, about finding the courage to act, to say the things you've always wanted, to never let regret occupy your mind.This book is gorgeously written, brimming with vivid imagery and emotion. At times it gets a little confusing, as you're not sure what has happened and what is being dreamed, but the power of this book overcame any of its flaws where I was concerned. In a few days it will be five years since my father died suddenly, and this book, felt a bit like a gift for me, despite how difficult it was to read at times.I haven't read any of George's other books, but she said in her afterword that her last three novels, The Little Paris Bookshop, The Little French Bistro , and this one form a cycle of novels about mortality and are colored by existential questions about death. I'm definitely going to have to pick her other books up, because this really touched me. It was both a beautifully written and a beautifully felt book.See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
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  • Kylie D
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully written book, richly metaphorical, about hovering in the space between life and death. It follows Henri, in a coma after an accident, and how he tries to interact with his loved ones and they in turn with him. Poignant and profound, we explore the feelings of loss, hope and grief, all at once.Yet, even though I can appreciate the beauty of this book, it really wasn't for me.My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up this book, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is the type of book I will be thinking about for awhile. I think the author really took a chance with this one and maybe it won't be for everyone, but I'm pretty darn glad I read it.The story in some ways is a bit tricky to explain without getting into spoiler territory so I'm gonna keep it brief and simple. The less you know is probably best in this case. Henri Skinner is set I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up this book, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is the type of book I will be thinking about for awhile. I think the author really took a chance with this one and maybe it won't be for everyone, but I'm pretty darn glad I read it.The story in some ways is a bit tricky to explain without getting into spoiler territory so I'm gonna keep it brief and simple. The less you know is probably best in this case. Henri Skinner is set to see his teenage son, Sam, for the first time in years when he is rushed to the hospital after being involved in a traffic accident. Henri's former girlfriend, Eddie, and Sam stick close to Henri's hospital bed as he is in a coma. The book is told from the alternating perspectives of Eddie, Sam, and Henri. Yes, you read that right, you will get to know the man in the coma quite well. I wasn't prepared for how much this would hit me on an emotional and spiritual level. Now I'll admit some of what the author was trying to express might have gone over my head, but what I did get, I loved. It was truly a treat to read a book in which the author was willing to go out on a limb and write a book that might not be "market friendly". I love when authors are willing to take chances and just go for it in order to tell the story they want and I appreciate when publishers give them the opportunity to do this as well. Such a great read and I look forward to checking out the author's other novels. Read this book if you are up for the challenge that it might be a high risk, but high reward type read.Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    The Book of Dreams surprised me in the best of ways. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ I’m a fan of Nina George’s Little Paris Bookshop, and I noticed right away that her trademark warmth imbued on every page of The Book of Dreams. Henri Skinner, one of our main characters, is a former war reporter. He’s rough around the edges, and the war has shaped him. He’s going to visit his son, Sam, who he doesn’t really know. While literally on his way to see his son, he is injured and rushed to the hospital. While there, he is co The Book of Dreams surprised me in the best of ways. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ I’m a fan of Nina George’s Little Paris Bookshop, and I noticed right away that her trademark warmth imbued on every page of The Book of Dreams. Henri Skinner, one of our main characters, is a former war reporter. He’s rough around the edges, and the war has shaped him. He’s going to visit his son, Sam, who he doesn’t really know. While literally on his way to see his son, he is injured and rushed to the hospital. While there, he is comatose and vividly dreaming about the secrets of his past. Sam, Henri’s son, is a gifted thirteen-year-old, and he sits by Henri every day at the hospital. It’s there that Eddie Tomlin arrives, a woman who has loved Henri for many years. Also at the hospital is Madelyn, a twelve-year-old who is also in a coma. She has survived an accident that killed every member of her family. Each character is dreaming of hope and fighting for life in their own way, and together, they are bonded by these wistful wants. Gosh, The Book of Dreams gave me so much to think about. First, it had me feeling deeply for its characters, and then it transferred to real life, as the story became so earnest, it felt real and luminescent. The Book of Dreams is deeply emotional and soaringly rewarding. I cried until I felt that ache in my chest. I had the hardest time letting go of this story and turning the last page. There is sadness, loss, and tragedy here, as is hope. Lyrical writing, deep meaning, heartbreaking, powerful, and profound, The Book of Dreams taught me about “just being” versus “truly living” among many other life lessons, and I am ever so grateful this book was in my hands and is now in my heart. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars ”Maybe our lives are nothing but stories that are being read by other people.” Henri Skinner, a man who was once-upon-a-time a war reporter, has just jumped off the Hammersmith Bridge as this story begins, desperate to save the life of a young girl who had fallen overboard. ”The river is dragging her along. It wants to own her.” But Henri wins this time. It is only after he is on land, carrying this girl to safety that he begins to worry about being late to get to the school where his 4.5 Stars ”Maybe our lives are nothing but stories that are being read by other people.” Henri Skinner, a man who was once-upon-a-time a war reporter, has just jumped off the Hammersmith Bridge as this story begins, desperate to save the life of a young girl who had fallen overboard. ”The river is dragging her along. It wants to own her.” But Henri wins this time. It is only after he is on land, carrying this girl to safety that he begins to worry about being late to get to the school where his son, Sam, is waiting for him. It will be the first time that they’ve really seen each other. Feeling weak after putting the girl down, he stumbles out into the road. The girl screams as a car sweeps him off his feet and into the air. ”I’ll be right with you, Sam. I’m just having a little rest.” Sam is an unusual boy, gifted with a Mensa IQ, he is also a synesthete - what he sees, feels, hears sometimes translates into something else. Numbers, sounds, voices, and music he sees in colours. Letters he associated with personality traits. ”The London Underground sounds steel gray, like a bagful of knives. My mother’s voice is soft, like soft gauze on a frozen lake. And purple. My voice is currently colorless, but when I’m scared it turns bright yellow. “People who know who they are and what they’re capable of have green voices. Dark green voices, serene and majestic like a wise old forest.” The story is shared between the voices of Sam, Henri and a woman named Eddie Tomlin, who once was in love with Henri, until he broke her heart, and how they weave together. We hear the story of how Sam came to be, the story of Henri’s brief relationship with Sam’s mother, Marie-France, the story of a fishing expedition that still stays with him, and his regrets over some things that were said. When Sam finds out that his father is in the hospital, and the time of the accident, he realizes it means Henri didn’t intentionally miss the father-son event at Sam’s school. With that, he is determined to finally spend some time with this man who is his father, a man he doesn’t really know. He knows his mother won’t approve, and so he goes without her consent, where he meets Eddie, and also eventually meets an eleven-year-old girl, Madelyn, Maddie, who is also in a coma, like his father. Maddie’s family were all killed in a car accident, she is the only one who lived. His sensory overlap allows him to see, feel Maddie on a level that escapes others, Sam makes it his mission to try to find a way to reach her, and draw her out of her coma. Raising many questions about the spaces between life and death, the various conditions of existence that we encounter between our first and last breaths, and whether or not we fully understand what those limits are, the purpose of our lives, this can be thought-provoking, without straying too far into the “woo-woo” category. With writing that I found both lyrical and profound, and a story that was both powerful and endearing, I loved this story from the start. Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    A heart-tugging story of devotion and hope. Nina George has created beautiful characters and compelling relational dynamics. I especially loved Sam, an extraordinary boy who is astute beyond his years. I wanted to give him a giant bear hug and make his dreams come true.George excelled at putting her thoughts to paper, especially as they relate to Sam’s journey to find peace and love and Henri’s alternating states of awareness as he remained trapped between two worlds. A profound and thought-prov A heart-tugging story of devotion and hope. Nina George has created beautiful characters and compelling relational dynamics. I especially loved Sam, an extraordinary boy who is astute beyond his years. I wanted to give him a giant bear hug and make his dreams come true.George excelled at putting her thoughts to paper, especially as they relate to Sam’s journey to find peace and love and Henri’s alternating states of awareness as he remained trapped between two worlds. A profound and thought-provoking read that I couldn't put down. Read it in two days.
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  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    OMG! I absolutely LOVED this book! The Book of Dreams is a story to be savored and for me, to read again and again. It is charming, endearing, fascinating, thought-provoking, and ingenious. I felt a range of emotions while reading this book including happy, hopeful, surprised and sad. The Book of Dreams is a compelling story that I could not put down. An added bonus for me is that the writing is beautiful the imagery is divine. George is a master at the effective use of metaphors and similes.One OMG! I absolutely LOVED this book! The Book of Dreams is a story to be savored and for me, to read again and again. It is charming, endearing, fascinating, thought-provoking, and ingenious. I felt a range of emotions while reading this book including happy, hopeful, surprised and sad. The Book of Dreams is a compelling story that I could not put down. An added bonus for me is that the writing is beautiful the imagery is divine. George is a master at the effective use of metaphors and similes.One of the book’s basic premises is that there are different levels of consciousness between life and death. Nurse Marion describes her comatose patients as “Wanderers” and says they live “on the bottom rung of heaven.” I think the primary reason that I found Book of Dreams so compelling was because of all the questions it raises about consciousness, life and death and “living in a coma.” I found it fascinating to ponder all the different theories and ideas that George presents in this book.“Dr. Saul nods. ‘Yes, Sam. But he is alive, only differently. Do you understand that? In a coma you’re still alive. You’re merely in a particular state. It’s a borderline condition—a crisis, of course, but that doesn’t make that life any less important than the one you or I or Mrs. Tomlin leads. That’s why here we say that someone is living in a coma rather than lying in a coma.’”“There are a variety of forms of life on the margins of death…”The book’s sections alternate among three different narrators - Henri (a man who saved a young girl from drowning only to be almost fatally hit by a car), Sam (Henri’s 13 year old estranged son who is a synesthete) and Eddie (Henri’s ex-girlfriend who he designated in his living will). Henri is in a coma, visited everyday by Sam and Eddie who refuse to give up hope. They learn about the different states of consciousness that Henri may be passing through though they cannot know for certain which place he is in at any given moment.“If waking and sleeping and coma aren’t states but places, then my father is currently on a journey between those places. Or worlds. Or zones that get darker and darker, the closer they are to death.”“Hoping that just once he will approach the waking zone, through all the different levels and zones and degrees of darkness, via the staircases and corridors that appear abruptly through the fog of medication and dreams, allowing him for a few short moments to navigate a path through all the intermediate zones between waking and death, and surface.”“My father was somewhere beyond dreams.”We are privy to Henri’s inner world — his recollections, thoughts, feelings, and what he is currently experiencing/hearing. We learn about the different paths his life could have taken and their respective outcomes. Is Henri traveling through his memories? Is he lost without a way to return to consciousness? “‘Henri! It’s not so easy to get back. You’ll get lost in the middle. In the middle of everything, do you understand?’”“‘Oh, Henri. You’re still caught in between everything, between different times and different paths.’”Eddie and Sam wonder if there is a way they can help to bring Henri back? They are desperate and willing to try anything.“I learn to call Henri by his name, repeatedly, because a person’s name is the ‘longest fishing line,’ as Nurse Marion puts it, to reel them back from whichever depths they’re swimming in.”“An aroma is the most effective voice in the wilderness of wandering souls. Fragrances can apparently reach the level where the comatose reside.”Does Henri want to come back? Is he aware of where he is and what is happening to hijm?“Being in a coma is like being buried alive, and nobody knows that I’m here. Here! What happens if they never hear me? If they think I’ve died? If they bury me alive? I can’t go on, I don’t want to go on.”The Book of Dreams raises all sorts of intriguing questions, such as do comatose people perceive everything around them? Do they struggle to “stay afloat”? Can they communicate through Dreams? Can they communicate with other comatose people? Can there be multiple realities at the same moment? Are there parallel universes? “There is a tear in reality. Through the tear I spot women and men in blue smocks, bending over me, and beyond them I see a boy staring at me. I had it before. I had it but it was too big for me to cling on to. The ‘in-between’ zone.” “This world is dying. I’m falling into the silence beyond the void. I’m falling and . . .”Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Susan Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    This was not a bad book. For me there were just parts of it that took a bit of pushing myself through it, which made reading it difficult to get through at times. The premise of the story was interesting and different than I've read, so it wasn't terrible. The characters where likable and unique. They were a bit strange at times or maybe it was the story that was strange at times or maybe it was the relationships that were strange, I'm just not sure.I knew what would happen in the end, but it wa This was not a bad book. For me there were just parts of it that took a bit of pushing myself through it, which made reading it difficult to get through at times. The premise of the story was interesting and different than I've read, so it wasn't terrible. The characters where likable and unique. They were a bit strange at times or maybe it was the story that was strange at times or maybe it was the relationships that were strange, I'm just not sure.I knew what would happen in the end, but it was a bit abrupt when it happened. Overall, I'm not disappointed that I read it, it wasn't too bad.
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    I love Nina George's books. They are perfection. I bought them all in hardcover (after already having the paperback). Perfection.
  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    interesting novel about coma patients and people around them and what they dream about whilst in a coma. enjoyed on the whole the book with its covering several layers and times .
  • Arlene
    January 1, 1970
    The story eventually captured my attention, but if I’m being honest... I was hoping for a different conclusion.
  • ʚϊɞ Shelley ʚϊɞ
    January 1, 1970
    The Book of Dreams is a fascinating read that grabs the reader tightly and demands attention. The unique narrative is written in the first person from each of the main characters' point of view, thus the reader is able experience the story from multiple angles. Nina George effectively explores the depths of human relationships, and looks intently at both the good side and the bad. Ultimately this is a story of redemption, and each characters journey to find it is heartbreaking, yet inspiring. Th The Book of Dreams is a fascinating read that grabs the reader tightly and demands attention. The unique narrative is written in the first person from each of the main characters' point of view, thus the reader is able experience the story from multiple angles. Nina George effectively explores the depths of human relationships, and looks intently at both the good side and the bad. Ultimately this is a story of redemption, and each characters journey to find it is heartbreaking, yet inspiring. The story centers on Henri, who ends up in a coma after rescuing a young girl from the Thames, his ex-girlfriend Eddie and his son Sam. The Book of Dreams has ordinary, flawed characters in an extraordinary situation, plus extraordinary characters one just doesn't usually find. The Book deals with tragedy but gives hope, and it deals with endings that are really beginnings. This is an absolute treasure of a book, though I recommend having a box of tissues nearby when you read it...it's been a long time since a book touched me so deeply--I literally ached at the end of this book. This story is one the reader does not want to leave--while reading or after finishing.Thank you NetGalley, Crown Publishing and Nina George for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.#TheBookOfDreams #NetGalleyAll my reviews can be found on my blog: https://shelleyann01.blogspot.com
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  • Celia
    January 1, 1970
    Nina George admits that she has always been afraid of death - her own and that of those close to her that she loves. "... existential questions about death have colored my last three novels, The Little Paris Bookshop, The Little Breton Bistro, and The Book of Dreams . To produce these books, which address issues of being and no-longer-being, have no happy endings, and are therefore not very “market friendly,” I needed book people who were willing to tread this kind of literary path with me."This Nina George admits that she has always been afraid of death - her own and that of those close to her that she loves. "... existential questions about death have colored my last three novels, The Little Paris Bookshop, The Little Breton Bistro, and The Book of Dreams . To produce these books, which address issues of being and no-longer-being, have no happy endings, and are therefore not very “market friendly,” I needed book people who were willing to tread this kind of literary path with me."This book was one sad thought after another. Both the dreams of Henri who is in a coma and the dreams of Sam, his son and Eddie, his love. A very difficult read and depressing read to be sure. But I want to be there for you, Nina, so recommend your excellent prose and your own voice hidden within.4 stars
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  • Theresa Smith
    January 1, 1970
    The Book of Dreams was published in Germany four years ago, but is only now being released as an English translation. In the April edition of Good Reading magazine, Nina George talks about her own experiences with the rare neurological condition of synaesthesia. After writing nearly 30 books under five different pen names, The Book of Dreams is the first time she’s written about the condition. I have to say, reading that Nina herself is a synesthete really added a layer of credibility to this no The Book of Dreams was published in Germany four years ago, but is only now being released as an English translation. In the April edition of Good Reading magazine, Nina George talks about her own experiences with the rare neurological condition of synaesthesia. After writing nearly 30 books under five different pen names, The Book of Dreams is the first time she’s written about the condition. I have to say, reading that Nina herself is a synesthete really added a layer of credibility to this novel that cemented its authenticity. All of a sudden, Samuel’s experiences of the world ceased to be only the product of research. I have always been a bit fascinated with synaesthesia, but was also slightly sceptical, simply because it’s so incredibly hard to visualise. The Book of Dreams is the first time I’ve read about the condition in such an accessible way. And as far as characters go, Samuel is pretty special, and not just because he is a synesthete.“I can’t look another person in the eye. There’s too much there, and much of it I don’t understand. Sometimes I’m afraid that their gaze will tell me they’re about to die, which turned out to be the case with our housemaster at Colet Court and our neighbour Mrs. Logan. People with synaesthesia used to be regarded as pathological. Pathologically shy, pathologically oversensitive, a real burden on their families. Children who have it are always screaming, quick to tears, and peculiar in other ways too. When they grow up they often turn out to be borderline, complete schizophrenics, or prone to depression. Many kill themselves because they can’t cope with the world and the way they see it. Hypersensitive cry-babies. If there were any pills to treat this condition, I’d be gobbling them like Smarties.”The Book of Dreams covers some pretty grim themes, but it does so with a sensitivity and beauty that is striking. It’s such an absorbing novel, dealing with consciousness on a whole other level. While Henri lies in a coma, Samuel is able to ‘read’ Henri, and despite their being no response that can be detected by the medical team, or even through the use of an MRI, Samuel knows that his father is still alive, that he’s in there, just waiting out of reach. While Henri is in his coma, we see his life lived out in dreams, alternate existences, and there are also times when Henri seems able to reach out to his loved ones through his, and their dreams, in a kind of alternate consciousness connection. It’s very different, and some people may not feel entirely comfortable with the themes that are played out, but I found it fascinating and inspirational. I also found it very uplifting, which may seem strange given that this is largely a novel about mortality.“The Book of Dreams completes my cycle of novels about mortality. I needed to write about fear and transience and to portray the points where life and death meet as a sort of fairy-tale place brimming with parallel realities, a transitional zone among all worlds, heaven, and earth. None of us knows if this zone really exists or if it is born of our thoughts and hopes and fears.” – AfterwordWhile visiting his father at the hospital, Samuel wanders up to another floor and meets Maddie, a twelve-year-old girl who is in a vegetative state with no underlying medical cause. Something is preventing her from waking, a trauma that is so deeply seated within her. Samuel is drawn to Maddy on a number of levels and she is the first person he has encountered that he can’t read. Over time, he continues to visit her and becomes devoted to being there for her, trying to reach her so that she might break through whatever barrier is holding her captive. This is where Samuel really tugged at my heartstrings, the way in which he tried to make moments special for Maddy. It didn’t make any sense, their connection, yet it was beautiful and meaningful and showed the depths of Samuel’s character to perfection.“I can hear her breath and then, with my soul snuggling against her heart, I hear her breath become a note. The note becomes a tune, a breeze, but it’s not like Madelyn’s piano music. This wind has been scouring the earth for a long time and is now slowly rising, growing brighter, as it continues its quest over the cool, silvery, frost-rimmed, icy coating of a long, broad, frozen river. It is changing into a warming ray of sunlight, which captures the sparkling silence and then alights on a motionless ice sculpture, inside which a heart is beating. My heart.”This novel explores love in a very raw and jagged way. Love lost, love denied, love withheld, and love for all time. I was particularly drawn to the way in which Nina depicted the care for patients who are in a coma. It was so respectful and dignified, the nurses who work directly with these patients are marvellous. There’s a lot of information about comas woven into this novel, many things that I would never have realised. Henri’s experience was fairly tragic, and it took me a little bit to realise what was actually going on in his sections. At first, I thought we were merely getting his backstory, but then it became apparent that we were instead witnessing him living, through his dreams whilst lying in a coma, alternate existences, some in which he lives an incredible life, but others where he dies too soon. It was so bittersweet to see Henri only get to know his son through the veil of being in a coma. He’d never had the opportunity to parent Samuel, to speak to him, gaze upon him, or even touch him. He had never been able to demonstrate his love for him. That he does so from the depths of a coma is extraordinary and so very poignant.‘Maybe this is hell. Yes, this must be hell. To live over and over again, through countless variations, repeatedly starting from scratch and committing the same mistakes and new mistakes, and then back to the start. And not to recognize any of the fresh repetitions as things that you’re experiencing for the second or fourth or thousandth time.’And then there’s Eddie, the love of Henri’s life, if only he’d ever told her. She was terrific, especially the bond between her and Samuel, who up until this point in time, she had never known existed. But she took it in her stride, like so many things, yet never did she come across as a martyr. I adored her. Her love for Henri was something she feared, yet she gave in to it, yearning for his recovery even though it pained her to let him back into her life. The characters within this novel were all so well crafted. Marie-Force, Samuel’s mother, was a complex woman. At first, I judged her harshly for the way in which she had denied Henri and Samuel a relationship. She seemed cold and disinterested as a mother too; I was very unimpressed with her. But later on, we see another side to her, a view into her fears, a crack in her reserve that allowed us to glimpse the great love she had for Samuel. The doctors, the nurses, Samuel’s friend Scott, his brother Maxwell and his step-father Steve, even Eddie’s co-workers; not a single character was one dimensional throughout this novel, even the minor ones. Everyone was uniquely realised.The translation of this novel is excellent. I didn’t even really think about it being a translation while reading, it was as if the author had written it in English originally. This is a thought provoking read that will stretch your imagination and tug on your heart strings. I really enjoyed it and recommend it widely, although just bear in mind that it’s a novel best suited to the open minded as it’s quite speculative about mortality and the afterlife.“I realize at that moment that you can always decide: nothing simply happens. It’s always possible to decide whether to lie or tell the truth, whether to be an asshole or not be an asshole.”Thanks is extended to Simon and Schuster Australia via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Book of Dreams for review.
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  • Paige
    January 1, 1970
    I will not be summarizing this story. Instead, I will be reviewing my likes and dislikes. I feel the summary for the story that is provided by the publishers is accurate.The premise for this book is a challenging but rewarding experience.It is difficult to predict the story, characters decisions, and the ending due to the natural unknown elements in life that the author attempts to tackle. The topics of dreams, life, death, after-life, and those in between are poetically posed and philosophicall I will not be summarizing this story. Instead, I will be reviewing my likes and dislikes. I feel the summary for the story that is provided by the publishers is accurate.The premise for this book is a challenging but rewarding experience.It is difficult to predict the story, characters decisions, and the ending due to the natural unknown elements in life that the author attempts to tackle. The topics of dreams, life, death, after-life, and those in between are poetically posed and philosophically pondered throughout this story. The characters feel real and are easy to relate to.The chapters are told through three different characters point of view (Henri, Sam, and Eddie). It was refreshing that the author did not conform to the predictable switching back and forth, or follow the typical character pattern between chapters. It was alleviating to be surprised, not knowing who would come next....or if it was a dream, in this world, or perhaps another. The only pattern anticipated is the day, since it does go in order of Day 1, Day 2, etc...My favorite aspect of this novel was the foliage of words and manipulation of language the author used.I did not completely like the ending, but I respect it as it fully engrossed the leitmotif. I thought it was cliche that Eddie works for a publishing company, and that Sam likes to write and wants to be a writer. There is a small romance involved, but it is not domineering to the story itself.To enjoy this novel, you must have an open-mind...particularly with the subject of comatose.
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  • Jane Woods
    January 1, 1970
    Nina George, the author of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Little French Bistro, completes her trio of books on being and not being with The Book of Dreams. These books have great personal meaning to the author as she works through anticipated fear of a life without her father, the grief that comes with his sudden death, and coming to terms with living her own life afterward.Her research on what we know of brain trauma and coma, relatively little, and bringing to life the two characters in com Nina George, the author of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Little French Bistro, completes her trio of books on being and not being with The Book of Dreams. These books have great personal meaning to the author as she works through anticipated fear of a life without her father, the grief that comes with his sudden death, and coming to terms with living her own life afterward.Her research on what we know of brain trauma and coma, relatively little, and bringing to life the two characters in comas and the two immediate characters whose lives revolve around and eventually entwine the comatose is nothing short of amazing.At times repetative, until you understand why this is, made the initial comnection to the book difficult. But, it is well worth the readers time to push through.The ending put me in buckets of tears but I am forever changed by the character, Sam, who though it is never stated, obviously lives a life on the autism spectrum. He overcomes so much, is so wise, loves so uniquely, and most of all sees a world outside of regimine...he takes you to a world we would all benefit from visiting regularly.My very favorite read in many, many books. Thank you, Nina George, for being willing to take us to uncomfortable places that make us grow as people!
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written story with unforgettable characters navigating through the many questions that connect us to our world and each other. Having lived through most of the experiences in this story I felt that Ms. George does indeed understand the struggle we all face in being human. A Must Read.Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this incredible story!
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Started out great, slogged through the middle, and the ending was so very disappointing. After sticking with the characters for that long the choices made by Henri in the end made no sense. What a let down. There is a great tone to the start of the book and I think the author had a good concept but ultimately this book just let me down. My copy was provided by NetGalley for review.
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  • Win
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, uplifting, sad & thought provoking. I couldn’t put this book down until the bittersweet end.
  • Jess Clayton
    January 1, 1970
    The Book of Dreams is a tough read, y'all. The subject matter within it challenged me to the highest degree. I wasn't prepared. This type of book, full of speculation, is not what I enjoy reading; it's too much work. I still don't know if I fully "got it" but I feel like I got the gist. It deals with consciousness and whether we can communicate with each other in each other's dreams, in a kind of an alternate connection. By that I mean, communicating with someone while in a coma. I wasn't exactl The Book of Dreams is a tough read, y'all. The subject matter within it challenged me to the highest degree. I wasn't prepared. This type of book, full of speculation, is not what I enjoy reading; it's too much work. I still don't know if I fully "got it" but I feel like I got the gist. It deals with consciousness and whether we can communicate with each other in each other's dreams, in a kind of an alternate connection. By that I mean, communicating with someone while in a coma. I wasn't exactly comfortable with the idea but I have never denied the opportunity to learn about things that make me uncomfortable. I think some of the things that appeal to some readers, like flowery prose and metaphors, is what turns me off. It's just a personal preference. Another interesting aspect of the book is that one of the main characters has a rare neurological condition called Synaesthesia. I had never heard of it before but apparently the author suffers from this condition so she is able to write from experience rather than from research. Synaesthesia is a condition where a person has a pathological ability to "read" a person's feelings. They can hardly cope with the world and the way they see it, so they are often diagnosed as schizophrenics later in life due to their oversensitive emotions and peculiar ways. One of the characters in the book, 12 year old Sam, has the condition and is able to "read" the coma patient and knows he is still there, even when an MRI and his medical team see no brain activity. These are the parts I just couldn't wrap my mind around.As you can see, the themes in this book are pretty depressing. I will say that you need to go into this with an open mind and recognize the courage Nina George must have to create such a complex novel, knowing it is only going to appeal to a small amount of readers. I know there is someone out there who needs this book, I just don't think it's for me. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for my review.
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  • Benjamin
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever watched a comedy where so many jokes are made that some of them are bound to make you laugh? The sheer volume of gags ensures that you're constantly tickled, even if most of the jokes fail. Turn that comedy into a book, trade out the humor for attempts at poetic beauty, and you've got Nina George's The Book of Dreams. Part metaphysical romance, part coming-of-age tale, The Book of Dreams is cluttered with imagery. Whatever ease and elegance it otherwise possesses, George's meanderi Have you ever watched a comedy where so many jokes are made that some of them are bound to make you laugh? The sheer volume of gags ensures that you're constantly tickled, even if most of the jokes fail. Turn that comedy into a book, trade out the humor for attempts at poetic beauty, and you've got Nina George's The Book of Dreams. Part metaphysical romance, part coming-of-age tale, The Book of Dreams is cluttered with imagery. Whatever ease and elegance it otherwise possesses, George's meandering prose are offset by its own relentless, quasi-stream-of-consciousness ruminations. In turn, the characters' journeys feel simultaneously belabored and shallow. Think of it as "Profundity Lite," a low-calorie alternative for those who wish to keep the weight off of their intellectual figures. With a splash of new age mysticism, a dash of Hallmark sentimentality, and a good deal of carbonation, The Book of Dreams provides a pleasant-enough distraction, but one that will leave many readers empty.*Thanks to Penguin Random House and Goodreads for the advance reading copy I received as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.
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  • Lesley Moseley
    January 1, 1970
    maybe even 4 1/2 stars. After my sister's suicide, I either had some of these experiences or they were really hallucinations. No matter, they were powerful experiences. Never have I read such an intelligent process of describing this phase of grief and fear.Might sounds depressing, but handled so sensitively, it was really a joy to read.
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  • Marco
    January 1, 1970
    This book really meant a lot to me, it is powerful and poetic, a science fiction, a literature dream of the afterlife, time dimensions, rips in space and time, grief, fathers and sons and their bond, of life and living it, and of the power of love.If you've read Nina George's other two books, "The Little Paris Bookshop" and "Little French Bistro", you know that her books are of a romance language that's been lost to time. Her novels are explorations of the human emotion to love and this being he This book really meant a lot to me, it is powerful and poetic, a science fiction, a literature dream of the afterlife, time dimensions, rips in space and time, grief, fathers and sons and their bond, of life and living it, and of the power of love.If you've read Nina George's other two books, "The Little Paris Bookshop" and "Little French Bistro", you know that her books are of a romance language that's been lost to time. Her novels are explorations of the human emotion to love and this being her third in translation from German, she only gets better with each work.The author's note at the back of the book explains how when her father died, she felt she had to go through those emotions in this book that she considers a close with the first three in a circle of books that are considered sad or with sad endings - though I'd consider this one more bittersweet.I feel when I read Nina George's novels that there's something she knows that I don't: about death, about life, about love, about the other side of this life. She gets everything so perfectly: the longing of love, of wanting love back that was lost, of how much you miss someone. Her characters are people who struggle with expressing their affections and emotions but are not short on them. She's a literature dream.This novel is about a lot of things, but it's an exploration of the spirit world, that veil between what lies on the other side and the world we're in now. Henri Skinner takes on travel through the afterlife to get back to his son, teenager Sam Valentiner (an empath who sees colors in language), whom he has never really met after a tragic accident puts Henri in a coma. His life with Sam's mother, his life later with his lover Edwina (Eddie) Tomlin blend in timelines in a subconscious, spiritual state and all the while there's a mysterious girl in the afterlife who Sam has a connection to.Literally, on the other side of life Henri runs into the spirit of his own father and must travel back to life if he can. As he does, time and space bend so that he can see the paths he took and also the patha that could've been if he made different choices. It's all very mind-bending and defies genre.I will tell you this, this book affected me in a huge way. Both George and I lost our fathers and I think in some way, we never really stop grieving and that's been difficult to process. So, to that end, I'm not sure if you'll love it as much as I do unless you're a romantic or are into this kind of exploration of life and its meaning in an almost science fiction way. But I will tell you this, that I posted earlier, that comes from my heart: This is a book about what we say to the loved ones who have passed, the prayer we say that only has two words that we could say over and over again until the stars in the sky shine back again, until the mistakes of our past can be corrected, until what we know now can be of use back then: "Come back."Don't expect to not be heartbroken and cry at the end if you have any soul in you. Released April 9th from Crown.
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  • Ashwini Abhyankar
    January 1, 1970
    I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started reading The Book of Dreams, I did have a rough idea of course but beyond that I wasn’t quite sure whether I will like it or not. I was really intrigued by the synopsis and I am glad that it did turn out to be quite a good book. It might not top my favourites list but it could have become a strong contender.This was my first time reading Nina George and I was so pleasantly surprised by the writing. There’s the relationships between the characte I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started reading The Book of Dreams, I did have a rough idea of course but beyond that I wasn’t quite sure whether I will like it or not. I was really intrigued by the synopsis and I am glad that it did turn out to be quite a good book. It might not top my favourites list but it could have become a strong contender.This was my first time reading Nina George and I was so pleasantly surprised by the writing. There’s the relationships between the characters, it’s emotional and every character’s struggle is real and heartbreaking but at the same time, there’s such a warmth to it.Henri Skinner was on the way to meet with his estranged son when he’s met with an accident after saving a little girl. Sam, his estranged son, tries to visit Henri whenever he can despite multiple warnings from his mum not to.While in coma, Henri is dreaming of his past and the secrets he’s had to keep. Then there’s Eddie Tomlin who never really stopped loving Henri, her struggle with the fact still keeps her up at night and it is a bit painful to read, if I am being honest.Sam, Henri’s son, has synaesthesia, he can sense things others cannot. He finds himself connecting to another comatose patient, a twelve years old girl Madelyn. Madelyn has survived an accident that killed all of her family.I loved the fact that despite being comatose, I could really see the characters, their hopes and dreams and their struggle to continue to live. Sam was a really good pov for me because he really made me interested in the lives of others whereas I wish I could say the same about others.If there was something that made this into a less than 4 stars read, it was that. The writing was lyrical and meaningful, the characters (especially Sam and Henri) felt real but I wish I could find all of them equally wonderful. I couldn’t connect to Eddie, even though I felt for her, I didn’t really feel for her. So, there’s that.Overall, I just wish I could have connected more with characters because this one had all the makings of a memorable book. However for now, it stands at 3.5 stars. If you like books that tell you the difference between existing and living, if you like books where your heart feels heavy after reading it, then this is the book for you.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    This book captivated me right from the beginning. It is a tough subject; what happens to us when we die; is there life after death, is there an alternative reality, or parallel worlds that happen along side the one we live in? Subjects that have always grabbed my attention and made me think hard about how little we know of truth and reality.Henri is a war correspondent. His 13 year-old son Sam is a synesthete and has an IQ of 144. Sam sent Henry a note and asked to meet him for an event at his s This book captivated me right from the beginning. It is a tough subject; what happens to us when we die; is there life after death, is there an alternative reality, or parallel worlds that happen along side the one we live in? Subjects that have always grabbed my attention and made me think hard about how little we know of truth and reality.Henri is a war correspondent. His 13 year-old son Sam is a synesthete and has an IQ of 144. Sam sent Henry a note and asked to meet him for an event at his school. On the way there, Henri performs a heroic deed but is struck by a passing car, casting him into a coma. At Henri's bedside, Sam meets Eddie, who was named as healthcare surrogate in Henri's living will. Eddie is the love of Henri's life, but is also the woman that terrified him into rejecting her. Throughout Henri's coma he lives and relives different points in his life when he could have made different choices; some in which he and Sam's mother stayed together and he never met Eddie, some in which he died repeatedly in a variety of ways and scenarios. Through it all, Sam can sense his father's presence, although the prognosis from doctors is grim. There are so many beautiful phrases that I highlighted in this book to remember for future reference - thoughts on life, on death, on love, and the reality of what it means to truly love someone. This book really kept me captivated throughout the whole story. I couldn't wait to finish it, and yet I never wanted it to end. The ending did surprise me, and yet I think it truly suited the tone the author set. What a heartbreakingly beautiful look at life, death, and all the possibilities in between. Thank you, Net Galley, for the chance to read such a captivating story in advance.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    The Book of Dreams shepherds with an enigmatic touch, gently coaxing its colourful personalities out of the darkest places and back toward the light. It patrols the border of life and death, dipping its toe into a sea of unknowns where the divided unite to save themselves, and perhaps each other.The main stage for this story is an intensive care ward, ‘home’ to a cerebrally-animated coma patient whose unconscious reveries are unexpectedly uplifting.Providing support to the outwardly lifeless Hen The Book of Dreams shepherds with an enigmatic touch, gently coaxing its colourful personalities out of the darkest places and back toward the light. It patrols the border of life and death, dipping its toe into a sea of unknowns where the divided unite to save themselves, and perhaps each other.The main stage for this story is an intensive care ward, ‘home’ to a cerebrally-animated coma patient whose unconscious reveries are unexpectedly uplifting.Providing support to the outwardly lifeless Henri on this journey of illumination and closure are Sam, his thirteen year old Synesthete son, Henri’s two exes (Sam’s mum and Eddie), and a commanding neurosurgeon nicknamed ‘God’ throughout.There’s also a twelve year old dancer, who Sam befriends after ‘sensing’ her struggle to free herself from that mysterious, veiled place beyond the waking world. Sam’s tentative relationship with his sleeping beauty, Maddie, is choreographed to perfection.This tale generously nurtures every character’s role, encouraging their emotional enrichment in many ways and to different ends. Regardless of whether the story focusses on their past or present you clearly see the lasting impressions people leave on others, and the effects can be the difference between existing and living.A candid and often humorous thought-provoking book in which dreams have the power to heal. (Huge thanks to the publisher for granting access to a digital copy of this title via Netgalley. I'm grateful for being given the opportunity to voluntarily read and review it.)
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  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like I'm not going to be able to do this book justice with my humble review. It was a slow start for me, but once I was hooked, I read it slowly. I felt like it was such a beautiful story that it should be savored, and although it hit a lot of buttons for me -- as a sister who lost her brother after a brain injury, and as a mother of a 13 year old boy -- I really loved it. I really connected with the characters, their hopes, their grief and their dreams. Side note: I don't normally rememb I feel like I'm not going to be able to do this book justice with my humble review. It was a slow start for me, but once I was hooked, I read it slowly. I felt like it was such a beautiful story that it should be savored, and although it hit a lot of buttons for me -- as a sister who lost her brother after a brain injury, and as a mother of a 13 year old boy -- I really loved it. I really connected with the characters, their hopes, their grief and their dreams. Side note: I don't normally remember my own dreams, but I sure had a lot of crazy dreams while reading this book!I don't want to give out any spoilers, and you can get the summary from the book jacket, but I do highly recommend this book. I think it would be great for book clubs, and I'd love to see it published with a discussion guide. It's my first time reading Nina George, and she mentions in the book end notes that she is taking her writing in a different direction with her next book, so I really look forward to seeing what comes next.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    *thank you to Simon & Schuster (Australia) for an ARC of this book*4 stars.Wow. This book can be described in one word and I know im not the first to say it, but I whole heartily agree with it and that word is beautiful!This was written so well it was just beautiful to read. Its a story you feel, along with the characters, you feel what they say and go through. Not knowing where the next step would take you but going along with it quietly while you listen to whats being said. Sometimes smili *thank you to Simon & Schuster (Australia) for an ARC of this book*4 stars.Wow. This book can be described in one word and I know im not the first to say it, but I whole heartily agree with it and that word is beautiful!This was written so well it was just beautiful to read. Its a story you feel, along with the characters, you feel what they say and go through. Not knowing where the next step would take you but going along with it quietly while you listen to whats being said. Sometimes smiling, sometimes feeling tearful as you get to know each main character's deep and personal thoughts and feelings and how each character is connect with the others. As I said, this is so beautiful. Im half and half on the ending. I did wish for it to be a bit different but thats not to say that I didnt like how it did end. It was heartfelt and realistic. It was strong, yet tender. It will tug at your heart. This is my first book by this author and im now very interested to read her other books too. I highly recommend this.
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  • Suziey
    January 1, 1970
    True Rating: 4.75/5Sam, Henri, Madelyn, and Edwina's lives intertwine in a most unexpected way. This novel focuses on life, death, and everything in between as Henri and Madelyn are both coma patients in the same hospital. And surprisingly, they also exist in the same in-between state. We get the viewpoints of all 4 characters thus giving us an interesting, and profound perspective on everything. It's a soulful, heartbreaking, oddly uplifting novel.The writing is lyrical. Everything I've come to True Rating: 4.75/5Sam, Henri, Madelyn, and Edwina's lives intertwine in a most unexpected way. This novel focuses on life, death, and everything in between as Henri and Madelyn are both coma patients in the same hospital. And surprisingly, they also exist in the same in-between state. We get the viewpoints of all 4 characters thus giving us an interesting, and profound perspective on everything. It's a soulful, heartbreaking, oddly uplifting novel.The writing is lyrical. Everything I've come to expect from Nina George. The story tugs on your heartstrings just enough to get you wondering about dreams and what they are. About what happens after death. What, if anything, do we take with us?*Thank you First To Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*
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