Book Review: Somewhere Only We Know, by Erin Lawless

Funny, addictive and always honest, this is a love letter to London, friendship and the unexpected from the author of the bestselling The Best Thing I Never Had.

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Boy meets girl…

Alex Bradley can’t help but feel that life is rather passing him by. And not just life – promotions, invitations, romance; the girl he loves only has eyes for his flatmate and his 9-5 job as the Immigration department skivvy is slowly numbing his soul. Until he meets Nadia.

Girl meets boy…

Nadia Osipova is running out of time. With no money, no lawyer and a totally fictitious boyfriend, she’s got one last summer and one last appeal before the British government deport her back to Russia.

Girl gets deported?

It’s going to be a bumpy ride, one she’s dragging her new friend Alex along for. As Nadia races through a list of all her favourite London adventures, for what may be the last time, Alex can’t help but start to see the city, and his life, through Nadia’s eyes.

From hazy summer days on the Common and heady nights in Soho’s basement bars, to twilight walks along the Southbank, will Alex realise what he’s got before it’s too late?

***

I was super pleased when I won a competition for an ARC of Somewhere Only We Know – then consequently was approved on NetGalley; it felt like I sign that I simply had to read it right away!

Alex’s job in immigration isn’t exactly thrilling. Day after day, forms come in, forms go out, and they’re pretty much all the same. So it’s unusual when he can’t help but take notice of one particular form, where the applicant actually seems to have a real personality, a real life, more than just being stats on paper.

It’s a pretty big coincidence when a few days later, he finds himself put on a pub quiz team with the very same woman, and just like her application, Nadia in person gets under his skin. When he confesses how life seems to be passing him by, Nadia makes a plan. She has a list of things she wants to do or re-do before she may be deported, and Alex is to assist her in completing her list.

As they tick off items on the list, Nadia and Alex grow closer, but so does her appeal date. Should she really risk letting someone new into her heart, when she’s so terrified of having to say goodbye to the people in her life already? Then again, can she risk not making the most of the time she has left, if her days really are numbered? Alex too struggles to know if their friendship should continue, especially with his job complicating things, but finally there’s a new side of him coming through – or is it just the real him that’s finally allowed to surface?

I eagerly read every page of this story wanting to find out how things would turn out for Nadia, Alex and all their friends. Generally, I love a good HarperImpulse book for a cosy romance to snuggle up with for a bit of light reading. And this certainly was those things, but it was also so much more. This book truly amazed me with such unexpected depths. While it touches on the politics of immigration, what this book really looks at is relationships, friendships, citizenship, what it means to be ‘home’ and what it means to be ‘family’ – this book really reminded me of the quote ‘friends are the family we choose for ourselves,’ because although Nadia is technically Russian, she has been in England since she was a child, it is the only home she knows and loves, and she has made her own family from the people around her, who love her, support her and need her.

As a lover of London I fell in love with the city all over again reading this and seeing its wonder through Nadia’s eyes. She has such a thirst for life and a passion for the people and places around her, I found her to be one of the most inspirational characters I’ve ever read about. She was fearless, passionate, headstrong, honest and all the things I aspire to be. No matter what, she was 100% herself, and I think there’s few greater things you can try to be in life.

There really is something magical about this book and about Nadia Osipova, something that makes me want to take chances and make memories. I want to be the kind of person who dreams about going over the bar. If you want to know what that last one means, you’ll have to read it and find out for yourself.

Rating: star-ratingstar-ratingstar-ratingstar-ratingstar-rating

Release date: 11 June 2015
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Goodreads

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