But Then I Came Back

320p. ebook available. HMH. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544531260.
Gr 8 Up—After waking from a monthlong coma, 17-year-old Eden struggles to speak, eat, and swallow. Nerve damage threatens her future as a dancer. Formerly the life of the party, now Eden can only sleep, mope, and lash out at those around her. She is haunted by images from her time spent in a coma, in the place between life and death. How can Eden be sure that she even came back at all? The only person she feels connected to is another coma patient, Jaz. She finds herself drawn to Jaz's hospital room, where she meets Jaz's friend Joe. The two begin a friendship, which quickly blossoms into something more. Laure's writing is thoughtful and lyrical. The disconnect between Eden's plans for her future and her new reality will feel heartbreakingly familiar to anyone who has ever faced unexpected change. Unfortunately, the teen's existential crisis is largely overshadowed by a typical YA romance. The end result is a charming love story that feels lacking in conflict. Readers hoping for more answers about Eden's mysterious experiences "in between" will be left disappointed. Laure's sophomore novel is a companion to her This Raging Light. While the narrative stands alone, the relationships among the characters will feel underdeveloped to readers unfamiliar with the previous book. Beautiful writing and an enchanting love story will appeal to romance fans.
VERDICT Give to fans of Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, or Gregory Galloway's The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand.

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