Book Review: A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern

About the Book:

A redemptive and captivating novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of PS. I Love You.
Ever wondered where lost things go?

Ever since the day her classmate vanished, Sandy Shortt has been haunted by what happens when something – or someone – disappears. Finding has become her goal.

Jack Ruttle is desperate to find his younger brother who vanished into thin air a year ago. He spots an ad for Sandy’s missing persons agency and is certain that she will answer his prayers and find his brother.

But then Sandy disappears too, stumbling upon a place that is a world away from the only one she has ever known. Now all she wants, more than anything, is to find her way home.

Published by HarperCollins GB

Released September 2007

My Thoughts:

‘It’s really very simple if you remember it like this. Everything in life has a place and when one thing moves, it must go somewhere else. Here is the place that all those things move to.’

Ever lost something and just never been able to find it? I have, not often, but it’s definitely happened. Mostly during times when I’ve moved house, I’ve unpacked, only to discover sometime later that I’ve lost something. Recently, something that I’d lost during a move that had real meaning for me actually turned up, ten years after I’d lost it. This novel is about lost things and lost people, and while I’m normally a big fan of Cecelia Ahern, I feel like this story got a bit lost several times itself along the way.

The story is a blend of a missing persons mystery, a retelling of the key theme of The Wizard of Oz, and a strange journey of magical realism within a place called ‘Here’ where all the missing things and people around the world end up. It was entertaining, yes, but also very strange. I enjoyed the parts where Jack was searching for Sandy as well as closing in on the fate of his missing brother, but as to the parts about Sandy in ‘Here’, they were incredulous, at best. The novel ends with this paragraph, which seems to be the key message:

‘We all get lost once in a while, sometimes by choice, sometimes due to forces beyond our control. When we learn what it is our soul needs to learn, the path presents itself. Sometimes we see the way out but wander further and deeper despite ourselves; the fear, the anger or the sadness preventing us returning. Sometimes we prefer to be lost and wandering, sometimes it’s easier. Sometimes we find our own way out. But regardless, always, we are found.’

A quaint story that will appeal to fans of magical realism and fantasy, but not one that I’d rush to recommend to anyone. The ending was a little too ‘and they lived happily ever after’ for me, given that Sandy had spent the previous thirty odd years dealing with some significant issues that just seemed to magically disappear upon her return home from her magical adventure. I did appreciate the closure for Jack though, despite how sad that ended up being. This one is definitely more magical realism than contemporary fiction and will require quite a bit of suspended belief in order to enjoy.

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