From the publisher:
Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.
But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again.
But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.
Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.
Written with Josie Silver’s trademark warmth and wit, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a powerful and thrilling love story about the what-ifs that arise at life’s crossroads, and what happens when one woman is given a miraculous chance to answer them.
I enjoyed Josie Silver’s debut novel, One Day in December, so I was excited when I saw that she had a new book out. Yet, after reading the plot description I wasn’t entirely sure if it was a premise I was going to enjoy. I should not have worried because Silver does a good job handling a unique, and heartbreaking, premise. Whether you chose to believe that Lydia’s sleeping medication actually provides her with a gateway to an alternate universe where her fiancé is still alive, or that it is all an elaborate coping mechanism created by her subconscious, Silver thoughtfully conveys Lydia’s grief and her journey through the process.
A therapist’s advice to Lydia at the beginning of the book that the grieving process is something that she should “pass through sentiently”, is first met with a fair amount of mocking. Yet, as it becomes more and more taxing on Lydia to move between her two lives, she begins to realize there may be some truth to the statement. Helping Lydia through her grief are her mom and her sister Elle. While the two men in her life are certainly important (her fiancé Freddie in the world she enters when she sleeps, and Freddie’s best friend Jonah in her real life), I appreciated that Silver puts much of the focus on Lydia’s relationship with her mom and sister. They are the two who ground and support her and the relationship between the three women ends up being the most important one in the book. A moving title where Silver thoughtfully handles Lydia’s journey and her struggle to move forward with her life.
3/2020 Caitlin Brisson
THE TWO LIVES OF LYDIA BIRD by Josie Silver. Ballantine Books (March 3, 2020). ISBN 9780593135235. 432 p.