Published in hardback this week on Thursday 4th February, Before I Saw You is deemed to be one of the major romance debut novels of 2021. Written by Emily Houghton, this is a heart warming read that definitely has a romantic element running through it. It is also such an easy, lovely read that takes you to the core of the story straight away.
But for me, the true strength in this novel is it’s portrayal of the power of human connection, kindness and vulnerability. This novel also includes one of the most beautiful and profound statements I think I have ever read:
Our scars are simply the marks of our stories. They show we’ve lived our life, and most of all that we have survived it. Don’t hide your story away in the shadows.
I love these words, and as a reader, really resonate with me.
Before I Saw You is the story of Alfie and Alice. They meet as patients in a rehabilitation hospital ward; Alfie has recently had his leg amputated after a traumatic accident and Alice’s body is badly burnt after being trapped in a fire. With their hospital beds side by side, Alfie and Alice tentatively begin to make a connection. They sleep next to each other, talk, argue, joke and at times flirt. But yet they never see each other as Alice insists that the curtain around her hospital bed remains closed. She doesn’t want anyone to see her, and as she tries to come to terms with her injuries as well as make sense of her feelings towards Alfie, she especially doesn’t want him to see her.
I know this seems to be heavy subject matter, but I swear it’s not. Skilfully Emily Houghton has created a joyful and heart warming read that has authenticity and depth. Straight away I was emotionally investing in Alfie and Alice. They are chalk and cheese – on the surface Alfie is a joker, always seeing the positive in situations and Alice is a workaholic who feels she does not need to rely on anyone but her self. But as the story develops and more about these lovely, likeable characters is revealed, we see that not all is what it seems.
Before I Saw You also profoundly explores that all consuming question – can you really fall in love with someone you’ve never seen…
I need to point out that this book does not make light of disability and trauma. As I am someone really quite involved in disability rights, I really commend and admire Emily Houghton’s emotionally intelligent portrayal of disability, injury and recovery.
I found myself racing through this book – it’s so easy and compelling to read. I enjoyed the whole story, but it was the last few chapters that really grabbed at my heart. I finished this book with tears streaming down my face.
Thank you Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to read and review Before I Saw You as part of the blog tour. If you want your heart to be warmed, read this book!
To also read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers on the blog tour, please see below.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂