I’ve been a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Youtube channel since middle school, back in the days of wearing crocs and starting stories I would never finish writing and pretending that I could run fast enough to be on the cross-country team (fun fact: I could not). Not only have we both grown older since then, but she has become an accomplished performer on the West End as well as a published author of both memoir and fiction books. Sometimes I think about the Carrie I used to watch back in my early teens and wonder how someone can be so incredibly talented and kindhearted and genuinely down to earth. Needless to say, Carrie is nothing short of inspirational.
I give this context of my history as an admirer of Carrie’s work to help explain how very excited I was when I learned that she would be writing a novel called On the Other Side. Becoming a published author has been a dream of mine since my age was in the single digits, and seeing Carrie accomplish this feat reignited this goal in me for the umpteenth time. My excitement rose even further after finding out that it would be a whimsical, magical, adorable love story– something I could completely imagine Carrie sitting down at her computer to craft. By the time a copy came into my hands via the lending hand of a friend (shoutout to my good friend Christina) it’s safe to say that I was so ready to read this book.
And I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything about simply screamed Carrie to me: the descriptions of Evie’s flat, her affection for sweets, the creativity of the story, the relationship between Evie and Vincent, the charming character of Vincent himself, the focus on highlighting the value of the arts and creative endeavors in general. I felt as though I could recognize the Carrie I’ve admired for years in every page turn, every new line, every adorable moment that made my lips widen into a smile. The story was cleverly layered with bursts of the present and the past, trips between Evie’s life on Earth and the intriguing middle ground of her life after death.
It’s difficult to write a book about love, life, and death like this without coming off as over-the-top and preachy, yet Carrie has managed to do so (albeit with a charmingly generous dose of cheesiness). I feel as though readers can relate to the story no matter what stage of their life they are currently living. Even though a major portion of the novel is written from the perspective of an older Evie, I could really relate to the confused and conflicting emotions she experienced as a twenty-something trying to figure her life out. The idea of being able to go back and mend rather than change certain aspects of your life is a really interesting twist on the usual approach to this topic. Though this novel is brimming with magical realism, the important themes it emphasizes are incredibly real and relevant to our actual lives.
On the Other Side ended up being exactly what I imagined it would be: that whimsical, magical, adorable love story that I had hoped for.
But here’s the problem: it wasn’t anything more.
The writing was okay, but not fantastic. At times the magical elements seemed over-the-top and out-of-place, oddly standing out against an otherwise ordinary background. A handful of scenes had to be reread because I couldn’t tell if they were meant to be figurative or literal (as in, did those pieces of paper really just turn into shards of glass?). Certain plot points felt forced, others illogical, still others as though they could have been expanded or emphasized as more important to the story.
I believe in sharing honest opinions, so that’s what I’m going to do. On the Other Side was okay– good, even– but not great. I turned the last page with a warm and fuzzy feeling in my chest that was tinged with a hint of disappointment. It almost feels as though I should give this work two different ratings: from the perspective of a fan of Carrie in general it was AMAZING, but I simply enjoyed it from a reader’s perspective. I’m proud of Carrie for accomplishing the daunting task of writing and publishing a novel– it just wasn’t the perfect novel for me.
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) 3 out of 5 smileys
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, especially if they a) are a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher and/or b) love a good romance story.
I hope this review makes at least an inkling of sense. On the Other Side is a fun, adorable, charming novel that is well worth reading… I was just a teensy bit let down because of all the hype.
What did you think of this novel? Do you watch Carrie’s videos? Let me know in the comments section below!