Title: You Came Back
Author: Christopher Coake
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 2012
Genre: Adult Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
Mark Fife believes he has moved past the death of his seven year old son, and the collapse of his marriage. Living with his girlfriend Allison, and ready to propose to her, he is thrown off balance by the arrival of a strange woman who claims his dead son, Brendan, still haunts the old house they used to live in. And that Brendan is calling for him.
Mark doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the temptation is too strong to check out the house and see if his beloved boy is haunting the place. Throw in his damaged ex-wife and Mark doesn’t know what to believe anymore. And what is real.
Beautifully written, You Came Back kept me engaged until the very last page. Coake does a stunning job of portraying the complicated emotions that plague Mark and Chloe over their son’s death and the real possibility that they will have a chance to make ammends. Mark questions everything about that day, the days before and over analyses almost to obsession his failed marriage. This is not really a ghost story. It is a story about love, family and grief. And how you can convince yourself of almost anything if you want to.
The beauty and tragedy in the story stems from Mark’s own guilt. How he wishes beyond reason things were back to the way they were, when Brendan was still alive, when his ex-wife Chloe was still in love with him. Though he has moved past that, and onto his new life, when his old life comes crashing back, the temptation to settled back into the past and try again is too strong for him. And this makes Mark a human character- to want to try again so deeply, he is willing to believe almost anything, hurt almost anyone, lie even to himself.
As Mark grapples with his feelings of desire for his past, Chloe is there pulling him along. While Chloe is a huge character in the book, I feel less sympathy for her than Mark. They are suffering through similar grief and understanding, but while reading, I didn’t get a strong sense of happy, loving Chloe. There are some flashbacks, and pictures of Mark and Chloe, content, together. But a lot of Mark’s reflections is how they were around the time of the accident- fighting unhappy and spiteful with each other. Maybe that was the point. Mark’s love for Chloe was as she was before, not as she is now and you know how dangerous it is putting your love on a pedestal.
The story moves fast, the language flowing nicely and before I knew it I was over half way through the book in one sitting. Watching Mark’s journey was emotional and sad and the twists in the story were believable. No matter how deep Mark got, I was still hoping he would pull himself out from the mess.
After finishing the book, I sat there, in awe of the story I just finished. I went back, re-read certain passages, especially the end.
Rating 9 Ridiculously Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book