• Jenn Kalchik

Book Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

*I received this book from the publisher/author as part of Goodreads Giveaway

I first discovered "The Two Lives of Lydia Bird" through Goodreads. While I did not read Josie Silver's debut novel, "One Day In December", I was familiar with her work because of Reese's Book Club, which "One Day In December" was the pick for December 2018. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a touching, yet somber, reminder that everyone goes through the stages of grief differently. Sometimes it takes a person longer to mourn a loved one that they lost, especially if it's someone they were planning to marry.

After her fiance, Freddie dies in a car accident, Lydia is heartbroken and grieving. In order to help her sleep at night, her doctor prescribes her sleep medication. While she's asleep, she dreams of a parallel life where Freddie is still alive. In the book, it distinguishes these lives by titling the chapters "awake" and "alive". At some point, Lydia has to focus more on her "awake" timeline rather than her "asleep" timeline.

While reading this book, it reminded me of the musical "If/Then". In this musical, the story follows the main character, Elizabeth, who moves back to New York City and has a choice to make: choose to go with her friend Kate or go with Lucas, and the audience sees the outcome of her decision of "what if I go with Lucas/Kate, then what will happen?" We see both scenarios play out at the same time during the course of the musical [one scenario she goes by Beth and one she goes by Liz). You see Liz/Beth go through both chance and choice during both of these paths, and without giving away too many spoilers, how each different path ends up correlating with one another. While 'Two Lives...' does not follow the same structure of both stories ending up correlating with one another, I was engaged while reading both scenarios of Lydia's life.

Whenever something happens in life, I tend to think of scenarios in my head of "what if it went like this instead of this?" As someone who has General Anxiety Disorder, sometimes this is helpful, other times it's not proactive. In the case of Lydia Bird, I can empathize with needing a little extra help medically to help her through her fiance's death, but it can be challenging to know when you need to stop taking the medicine to help your overall wellbeing. Without giving away spoilers, she does come to terms with finding other ways to cope with her insomnia after Freddie's death, but it takes time for her to acknowledge this.

For my 2020 Reading Challenges, I used "The Two Lives of Lydia Bird" for the following prompts and challenges:

Lydia is a well-written character overall and every reader can find qualities they can relate to. Even with the story of loss and grief, this story had so much heart and authenticity. There are two quotes that really stuck with me after I finished the book that I want to share.

Grief is an odd thing. It's mine and no one can do it for me.
It's not always easy to accept the things you cannot change.

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