Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
What if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time?
Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago.
Except this girl isn’t Nicole.
She looks exactly like Cal’s shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated-and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she’s hiding, the less he wants to know.
When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.
From the beginning this was an intriguing read. My difficulty in writing `this review will be to honor the author’s wishes:
“This is a story that can easily be spoiled, but I ask that it not be by you. If you choose to leave a review, I kindly request that you allow the next readers to have their own journey, to experience whatever emotions this story may stir in them, spoiler free.”
So I shall attempt to do just as Ms. Donovan has requested.
What If revolves around 4 friends (Cal, Nicole, Rae and Richelle) whom meet as they enter grade four. Cal is the easy going sole guy of the group. During his formative years he is a bit nerdy. Nicole is the beauty and the brain of the group. Her family is tight laced and expect very specific behavior from their child (think straight laced, dinner on the table for the husband with a stay at home mom). Rae is Cal`s best friend and confidant during high school and first year of university. Richelle is the easy going girl who is the first new friend of Nicole when she moves into the neighborhood. The kids are thick as thieves and play together. I found it endearing the Richelle got extra `play clothes` for Nicole to use so that she kept her clothes clean for her family. This allowed Nicole to have some fun with the kids without getting into trouble. That showed me real comradery, compassion and friendship from an early age for these children.
The bonds are tight. But as they enter high school…..everything seems to change. Without any warning, Richelle and her family move….leaving the group devastated. The dynamics and changed and then Nicole essentially leaves the group by only hanging with specific kids in high school – the kids that her father finds suitable for her future! This leaves Cal and Rae in limbo…not knowing why one friend moves away suddenly and why the other has totally abandoned them.
The story vacillates between then and now. That does prove be distracting at times, though once in the flow of this author`s style – not a big deal. For much of the story – when telling the current timeframe is told from Cal`s viewpoint. When telling the past it is usually from Richelle or Nicole`s point of view.
Cal has moved far away to go to university. One day he is in his local coffee shop and sees Nicole, but she isn`t, she is Nyelle. And there things get interesting. The journey of Cal and Nyelle is interesting. Nyelle is multi-faceted. I found that I was just as intrigued by the many sides of Nyelle as Cal 🙂 . Nyelle is caring (giving her coat to a homeless man, helping out at the children`s ward in the local hospital). She is also free spirited…if the mood strikes her, she will do the oddest things since she can….such as climbing trees, rolling down hills, sliding down a hill in a wedding dress (now that story was really heart wrenching). I found Nyelle very interesting (albeit maybe a bit unstable emotionally), which did even out a bit of the boringness of Cal. Cal has not been able to commit to any new girlfriend for longer than a couple of weeks to a month. I wondered if it was because he never got over his first crush (Nicole)…?
I really enjoyed Rae. She is a good best friend to Cal. Does not take his BS and makes him accountable for his actions. She seemed misunderstood by Nicole and Richelle when they were young and for that I felt a tug on my heartstrings for her. But as she matured, her strong character came out and she is there for Cal.
If storylines don`t gel or things seem odd I suggest you keep reading as all is revealed and the story gels in a really great way once you know everything. I may well take the author up on her suggestion:
“Now that you know the ending, you may want to read What If again! It`s delicately constructed so that it`s an entirely different experience when you know the truth. Remember, everything`s on purpose!”
The story kept me engaged and wanting to read more, which I for the most part did within one sitting! I hope that when you read this story, you are as engaged as I was.