It started out so simply. Anna runs away to Thailand, drags her best friend Dante with her and spends a few weeks away, taking on other people’s problems while getting away from her own. She meets the enigmatic Jude Grayson, and for as long as it’s clear to both of them that it ends when they leave, she thinks she’s got the perfect fling planned out.
Or does she?
Anna returns home to find that her life is no longer the way it once was, and that she can’t stop thinking about him. She learns through tragedy that nothing she’s ever believed in has turned out to be true. The worst part? The people she loved were keeping a secret from her. And that no matter what she does, no matter how hard she fights against it, every path she takes keeps leading her back to Jude.
This is a story about love, found in a faraway place by two very unlikely people. It is also a story about friendship and loyalty and fighting for what you have despite the illogical mystery of fate. And with the struggle between morality and guilt, faith and acceptance, there comes a learning that even the best-laid plans are powerless against the alignment of the universe.
From the beaches of Thailand to the streets of New York, three friends, Anna, Dante, and Jude will learn the hard way that once providence steps in, there is nothing in the world that can change what is truly meant to be.
In this life, I hope you can take some time and read In This Life by Christine Brae. It’s emotional. It’s real.
One of the simple joys that I have when I read all the works of an author is being able to witness the growth taking shape when it comes to their writing style. Just like her previous works, Christine Brae’s prose for In This Life is that of poetic and beautifully weaved truths. But this time around, her words packed a lot more punch which resulted for the emotions of her characters to freely flow to us, her readers. Brae’s thoughts and words is the perfect match to flawlessly execute such a plot line as with In This Life. It’s a story that truly requires a certain bravery and sincerity to radiate through the words and pages of the book for readers to fully feel and grasp its vital points. Aside from those, I do think that one of Brae’s strengths lies on how her words leave marks, make people think and reflect about their personal lives. In This Life may be about Anna’s self-discovery journey but a bonus to this is having our own self-discovery journey while reading the book and beyond that.
“Don’t you ever just want to forget who you’re supposed to be and just be who you really are?”
Just when I thought I was immune to Christine Brae’s shocking twists and I go, read this one. Actually, the first few chapters were a breeze to read through. I was immediately captivated by Anna and Dante’s friendship and Anna and Jude’s blossoming feelings towards each other.
But then the story took a very surprising turn and pretty much started the emotional avalanche inside of me.
I did not expect the plot line for In This Life to turn out this way. I don’t know what I was actually thinking and expecting but certainly not this one. A string of curse words flew out of my mouth upon realizing the weight of the situation. It’s insane. I was so confused and torn with everything that’s happening in the story. From that point, I knew that these characters were going to ruin me.
“Do you think we were meant to meet, to spend time together, despite the fact that in the end, we have to go our separate ways?”
What I love the most about Anna, Jude and Dante is the fact that they were flawed characters. They weren’t perfect at all, just like us. It seems like they were instruments used to showcase the weaknesses and strengths of human beings in trying times wherein our faith and passion is put to the test. All three of them were at a life-altering crossroad – torn between what their minds think is right for them and on the other hand, what their hearts truly want. Is Jude going to continue pursuing his life-plans or for once and for all, stray from it? Is Anna going to stay committed or is she going to follow heart? What about Dante? Now that he’s given the chance, is he going to right the single thing that he’s done wrong or is he going to continue his life just the way it is? In This Life was a tough read because you know that one or the other needs to give way for a real chance at happiness to shine through. Well, that’s life and we make the most out of it no matter what the consequences of our actions are.
The confrontations and deepest conversations of these characters were definitely my favorite parts of the book. Those were the parts where we see them stripped down to core, bearing their hearts and souls out. In some scenes I felt like being slapped in the face, sucker punched in the gut and my heart being ripped out of my system. The last 20% of the book affected me so much. It gutted me. I ended up being such an emotional mess. I wasn’t prepared for THAT particular thing to happen. I just wasn’t. The next thing I know there’s another highly emotional, touching and enlightening scene about to unravel right before my very eyes. I remembered reading that part at 2 am-ish and tears just can’t stop leaking out of my eyes. Every single emotion seemed to be swirling inside of me. Too much.
There’s a lot of tears and sniffing going around this part. That being said, reading the ending brought happy-sad tears to my eyes. It may be bittersweet, but that ending fully satisfied my reading cravings and I actually expected for a heart-warming scene to close the story of Anna, Jude and Dante. I’m thoroughly impressed with how Brae handled the story, wrapped everything up and for her plot to come full circle.
“Remember that the mind is a powerful thing. You can convince yourself of anything. But at the end of the day, it’s your heart that you have to contend with. It doesn’t bend as easily as your mind.”