REVIEW: This Side of Forever – Jo Chandler * * * *

This Side of Forever - Joe Chandler

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Book Description from Amazon

Annie Bloom and Lexi Vanderkamp are out for a night of drinking beer and having fun in Annie’s Camaro when Lexi, who is driving, makes a fatal mistake. Annie is left to deal with the consequences of her best friend’s death. Problem is, Annie has a drinking problem, and the more she blames herself for Lexi’s death, the more she drinks to forget. Unable to deal with the growing guilt over her part in the accident, Annie breaks up with her all-star boyfriend, Adam, and takes up with a guy called Raunch, who more than lives upto his nickname.

Raunch seduces Annie with his penetrating blue eyes and easy access to the best alcohol she’s ever had. Together, they embark on a series of drunken adventures that eventually threaten Annie’s life.

But it’s the journey that Annie takes alone, after hours of relentless drinking, that ultimately alters who she is and everything she believes in.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for a honest Review.

This Side of Forever by Jo Chandler is a thought provoking tale about Annie Bloom, a young girl who follows in her alcoholic father’s footsteps, perpetuating the all too familiar cycle of addiction. The book is written entirely from Annie’s perspective and gives the reader a comprehensive view into her reasoning and subsequent decision making.

The story evokes a range of feelings, from sadness to anger to oh-my-gosh-what-are-you-thinking-girl!

It is clear right from the first chapter that things are not what they should be for Annie. She is dealing with the loss of her father, but her choices with regards to managing this grief are flawed. She does what her father’s example taught her, numbing her pain with alcohol.

What I liked about the book

This is a well written book. The author’s way with words connected with my emotions without being overly dramatic or soppy. Annie is a likeable but infuriating character. Her choices are so skewed, her addiction so far gone – I just wanted to scream at her. My heart really broke for Annie’s mom, and I couldn’t help but wonder how she would deal with a second close family member’s descent into alcoholism.

I like how the book took me on a journey inside the mind of an addict. The justification, the excuses, the denial, the blaming of people and circumstances, the regret, the promises, the lies, the pushing away of people who care. It was all too familiar.

This book has a spiritual element to it that I didn’t see coming and I suddenly understood the Title.

What I didn’t enjoy that much

There was one niggle for me and that was the encounter with Raunch. I couldn’t understand why Annie made the decision to meet Raunch in the park that first time. She admits she didn’t really want to, but then sends him a txt anyway. I understood the subsequent meetings—he had alcohol and dope, enough for an addict to take unnecessary chances. I wrote that first meeting with him off as just another bad decision.

Final thoughts

This was not an easy read. The story is deep, painful and reminiscent of a life of addiction. In my field of work I see so many things that were echoed in this book and I found myself pondering on aspects of destruction and healing.

This is the first story in the Forever series and I look forward to reading the others and finding out where Annie’s new found awareness takes her.




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