Reviewed by Victoria Sutton
According to her husband, Max, Jennifer Wright is having a ‘MIL’ (Mid Life Crisis). She is 38, married with two small children and works part-time at an estate agency. Although she loves her family very much she feels she gave up her career for them and now, stuck in a marital rut, she can’t help but think ‘Is this it?’ Then one day, which just so happens to be at the very beginning of the novel, she runs out into the path of a car and ends up in a coma – a coma with the gift of showing her the other paths that her life could have taken…
In the depths of her coma Jen is presented with three tunnels she can visit to see how her life would have turned out had she ended up with any of her three different exes – Aidan, Tim and Steve. As we learn more about what might have been had she chosen a different ‘happy ever after’, we are left wondering whether she made the right choice with Max and if their relationship be salvaged.
I was utterly gripped by Jen’s story straight away. There is the initial mystery of what she was running away from in the first instance to end up in the traffic accident and then whether she will pull through or not. Of course, there is the curiosity to discover how her life might have been if she’d made different choices regarding the men in her life. These glimpses into what might have been are interspersed with snippets from Jen’s past and her relationships with Aidan, Tim, Steve and, of course, Max.
I loved the concept that Jemma Forte presents us with in this novel. Although there is a lot of jumping between past and present and what might have been, it is done coherently so I was never confused at all. As a thirty-something mother of two myself, I can sympathise with Jen’s predicament and especially loved the glimpses into her past as they were reminiscent of my own youth! The man she fell in love with, Max, was definitely my favourite of the bunch, but it was hard to reconcile him to the Max of now.
I found If You’re Not the One to be an engrossing read full of heartfelt emotion, but not without humour. It was thought provoking and sometimes unexpected. It’s hard to say without giving away too much, but my only disappointment was initially the ending – although on reflection of the journeys Jen had been through in her coma, I liked it more. Cryptic! You’ll have to read it yourself now to make sense of that!