Review – The year I met you

Author: Cecelia Ahern
Enjoyment score 7/10
This book is about Jasmine, a young woman who is (unwittingly) on a journey of self-discovery. She travels from a place where she’s falling apart but doesn’t realise it, towards a destination where she is once more enjoying life. During this period, her struggles affect the lives of those close to her, principally the man who lives opposite her (Matt Marshall, the ‘you’ of the title), her older sister, Heather, (who has Down’s Syndrome) and an über-sexy recruitment consultant.
The story is told by Jasmine in the first person, and it’s told powerfully. It has the same effect in places as someone shouting in the reader’s ear, which can be off-putting, but we go on listening because we want to know what happens next. And there is a twist. The narrator consistently refers to the man who lives opposite as ‘You’, very rarely mentioning his name. So, even as the reader is busy living the turmoil that is the narrator’s emotional life, we are also being urged to identify with the neighbour – for who is the narrator addressing if not the reader?
Jasmine’s character is well drawn. The author has used her actions to demonstrate who she is. Just to make sure that we don’t miss the way Jasmine is harming herself, the author describes the coping strategies used by Jasmine’s sister, Heather, to live a fulfilling life despite her disability. We are given a clear feeling for Jasmine’s inner life. It’s well worked out, and has a depth that repays exploration.
The characters of Heather and Matt Marshall are adequately described; the other ‘characters’ are plot devices.
I must confess that this book rather baffles me. When I started reading I was irritated by the central character, who is self-destructive in an erratic, hyper-emotional fashion. By the time I finished, I was wondering just how many of her characteristics I shared…

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