3 out of 4 stars
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When Time Stands Still by Sara Furlong Burr is the story of lost love and redemption. Elle Sloan hasn’t contacted Luke Hutchins in almost a decade, choosing instead to bury all of their shared memories in the deepest corner of her mind. She dives into a loveless marriage, concentrates on going forward in life without Luke by her side and fools herself into thinking that everything is smooth and dandy in her life. However, her plans come to a brutal halt when she receives an unfortunate call. Luke has been in a dreadful car accident and is now suffering from amnesia, forgetting completely about the past ten years and his break up with Elle. Driven by guilt and a silent need for closure, Elle agrees to return to Luke’s side in hopes of jogging his memory and lessening the pain of reality. What happens when old feelings begin to return, and Elle starts to question every choice that brought her to this moment?
The book discusses extremely triggering themes such as alcoholism, rape, emotional and physical abuse, miscarriage and so on. It is not, by any means, a light read but it is very educational and insightful. The author makes sure to explain all of the protagonist’s suffering and worries in full detail, which I highly appreciated. Elle has been the leader of a very harsh life with barely any form of security. She was raised by an alcoholic, single mother who didn’t pass a day without reminding Elle of her inadequacy. Later on, she was abused and raped by an ex-lover, and she continues to deal with insecurities and traumatizing memories even after she meets Luke.
What I greatly enjoyed about the storyline was how Luke wasn't created as Elle’s savior, as I expected in the beginning, but as her support. Elle’s pain didn’t end with the presence of Luke in her life, but it became more concealed despite Luke’s apparent attempts to be the person Elle confides in. I understood Elle’s tendencies to create a solid barrier in her relationship, how her involvement with her mother and ex-boyfriend affected her perspective of who she should allow in her life despite the strong connection she felt with Luke. Her emotions and thoughts were messy and contradicting up until the very end, which made them even more believable and relatable – especially when she broke up with Luke. I commend the author for putting tremendous care in portraying Elle’s complex character.
Also, I enjoyed the stories of the minor characters and their charming sense of humor. Each one had a distinctive, unique personality which I loved reading about throughout the book. For example, Mena, Elle’s best friend, was loud and out-spoken while Monroe, Luke’s best friend, was more calm and bold. Both of them had contradicting personalities yet shared the same morals and immense loyalty to their loved ones. Their dynamic was the most fascinating to read about, and I cracked a few laughs whenever they were involved in conversations.
On the other hand, there were some aspects of the book that I didn’t find believable. For instance, the start of Elle and Luke’s relationship was immensely fast-paced and too cliché to be captivating. It was a love at first sight where they couldn’t stop staring at each other for a couple of seconds. Later on, Mena forced Elle to go on a date with Luke, a complete stranger, without at least a background check on him – simply because the way they gawked at each other was so love-struck. Also, after a day of knowing each other, Elle already trusted Luke enough to sleep next to him despite getting raped in the past. I just didn’t find this fairytale-like love to fit Elle’s cautious nature and past struggles with trust.
There were a few minor typos but other than that, the book seemed to be professionally edited and proofread.
For the reasons above, I will rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The book was written beautifully and realistically, but I would have greatly appreciated it if the author focused a bit more on writing shorter descriptions while explaining a scene or a character’s feelings – since it made me lose focus of the main purpose of a scene sometimes. I would recommend this book for ages above 16 because it contains triggering scenes and sexual content. I would also recommend it for lovers of a meaningful and inspirational love story, but not for the readers who are looking for a quick and light read.
When Time Stands Still
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