3 out of 4 stars
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What is the purpose of our existence? What happens when we die? Is that the end, or is there an afterlife? Eloise Keegan creatively explores the answers to these questions in her book that is based on a true-life story.
Eloise Keegan's Esme's Journey follows young Esmeralda "Esme" Dyer through her difficult life while she has to deal with her mother's constant verbal abuse and hate and even bullying at school by her schoolmates. One fateful day, her tooth extraction procedure with Dentist Sebastian Fox, who was having a rough day after a spiritual encounter, goes wrong, and Esme finds herself beyond the three-dimensional level of consciousness. She is at her happiest in this intriguing new world and wants to stay, even when she has the opportunity to return to her body. However, her journey towards understanding this dimension and the world is just beginning.
The story is told from the third-person perspective while we follow Esme, her mother, Maud, and Mr. Sebastian Fox as the central characters. The author expertly ties these characters' stories together, with Mr. Fox surviving a near-miss experience that destabilized him, Maud's frustrations with poor finances and having to cater for Esme, and Esme getting the worst of it, as her life was full of rough experiences, and there were barely any safe spaces. Just like Esme, I continuously wondered why the world, especially her mother, was so harsh, and I found it easy to connect with her struggles.
"Esme’s saving grace was the back garden behind the house. In summer, as she ran to the back door, it would unfold and welcome her into an expanse of a green meadow with wildflowers, butterflies, and bumblebees. This was her sanctuary, her open lungs filled with the sweetness of raw nature, pulling her from the madness of her mother’s mind into a haven of freedom and beauty." - Page 16.
One aspect of the book that stands out from the very first page is Eloise Keegan's descriptive style of writing that fully immersed me in the pages of the novel, especially with a lot of focus on the environment. This was key, as it helped me get a full picture of what Esme experienced after she left her body and ascended into a higher state of awareness. I will not divulge exactly what she saw and learned in that world, but readers can pick up this book and expect insights into the "body and soul" relationship, fulfilling our purpose, and tolerance. The paragraph above presents a great example of what readers can expect with respect to the author's writing style that was my favorite aspect of the book.
The book has two shortcomings, however. Firstly, I would have appreciated more depth to Maud's character, as her hate for her daughter was never really justified. Also, the book is not professionally edited and contains a lot of run-on sentences. I may have considered awarding the maximum rating here due to the lessons I picked up on becoming the best version of myself and how entertaining the story was. However, the number of errors I found implies that I will settle for rating Esme's Journey three out of four stars. I would recommend this novel to readers who are open to getting another view of what happens after we die (homecoming). Lovers of supernatural stories will also enjoy this book.
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