Today’s post is another book review post as quite a few of you seemed to love the other one I’ve posted (linked here). Since I read about 5 books on holiday I decided I wanted to review them all and share these reviews with you to give you some thoughts on a book before you buy it but to also support the author. So here is my review of If Only by Melanie Murphy.
Setting: London and Ireland
Erin is about to turn thirty and her life is definitely not where she thought it would be. She hates her job, she’s jealous of her perfect flatmate and she has just called off her wedding. She’s trying (sort of) to make a fresh start and get things ‘on track’ finally, but where to begin?
A trip home to Ireland to celebrate her birthday with her beloved grandmother is a welcome distraction, but
what she’s not prepared for is the gift she receives: a secret family heirloom that will change everything.
There are so many questions that have been keeping Erin from moving forward. Should she have married Dan? Would she be happier if she lost weight? Was turning down her dream job the giant mistake she’s always feared it was? And now she might have a way to find the answers, and a clear path to the life she’s always dreamed of.
But as Erin gets caught up in one ‘if only’ after another, is she missing out on all the things her real, present-day life is offering her?
If Only was Melanie Murphy’s debut in the world of fiction, the book was released Summer 2019 and was widely anticipated by her ever-growing and supportive audience. Melanie Murphy had also written and released a non-fiction book called “Fully Functioning Human (Almost)” which was all about different topics such as eating habits, mental health and sexuality, it told Melanie’s story as well as offering advice and tips.
If Only is a book based around Erin, an almost-thirty year old Irish girl living in London, who has just called off her wedding and has a pretty foggy outlook on her life. However that all changes when her beloved Granny gives her a really special thirtieth birthday gift, this gift allows her to see alternative lives according to the decisions she didn’t make. This allows Erin to have a completely different outlook on her life and help her determine what she needs in her life and not necessarily what she wants. This book covers and relates to topics such as eating disorders, body image and different types of relationships, with an underlying theme of sexuality and mental health. This novel really breaks down the stigma of topics such as sexuality and mental health as it shows them as part of normal everyday life for the characters which is so relatable and refreshing for the audience. You know there’s no big coming out for the GBF (Gay Best Friend) and different types of mental health issues are mentioned throughout without being a big traumatic revelation. Something else which this book touches on respectfully is the economic status of people and the struggles young people face in regards to careers, the housing market and cash flow issues without glamorising it. These issues are shown in a way in which makes the character more relatable but it also shows the difficulties which money issues can cause without making it ‘being skint’ a personality trait. I personally find this a really progressive way in which fiction is written and should just be the norm, in many books where mental health issues are involved there is always negative connotations to it and insinuates that it is a life or death situation when in reality people will encounter mental health issues in a much more casual and realistic way.
“Melanie is really laying down the tracks of how young people’s situations and issues should be represented within fiction, I feel like this is really obvious in her non-fiction book and also weaves its way into her novel”
The story holds its ups, downs and mysteries which grips a reader but also makes them feel what the character feels, I mean at the lowest point of the book I felt myself feeling genuinely sad because of the empathy I had grown to have towards Erin but also because it was a situation I personally have dealt with.
“Erin is a character with aspects which everybody can relate to, whether that is her body image issues, identity issues and the impeding doom of ageing and career choices. Her narrative leads to personal reflections throughout the book”
The way in which the book was written is with intertwining stories, it touches on other characters lives in a way in which feels natural to the reader, just like you were hearing a story about people you know from someone you know. The way in which Melanie writes is so natural and personal to her that you almost feel like you’re listening to her speak to you, it certainly is a style in which can’t be replicated authentically. I found this quite refreshing, I liked that it just naturally flowed and had her Irish culture and nature flowing throughout the book. However I can appreciate that this might not be a positive to some people as they may not want the more casual writing style and want to opt for a much more structured style of writing with much less colloquialism.
“The story is ingenious and is stylistically similar to Mitch Albom’s “Five People You Meet In Heaven” which is my all time favourite book.”
Something which I felt was worth noting in my review is that I read this book in under 12 hours(!!) At first I felt like I wasn’t going to get into the story but then I realised I had already read over 100 pages. Due to the natural flow of the story and also the different cliff hangers which the story concept brought to the story I just didn’t want to put it down. I needed to know how Erin was feeling, how she was going to react and also what lessons each decision would bring her.
“I just sat in the Portuguese sunshine by the pool and devoured the entire story word by word.”
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and cannot wait to see what Ms Murphy has in store for us in the future. The book was well written in an interesting more casual style whilst covering important issues for younger people and paving the way for representation of many different types of people.
Have you guys read this book? If so what did you think? And if you haven’t why not? What do you think now you’ve read my review? Please let me know!
Thank you so much for reading today and I hope to see you around these parts soon. If you like the content that I’m creating then please follow, like and comment so I can see how you’re feeling about my content!