Laure, Estelle. But Then I Came Back. Houghton Mifflin 2017 310p $17.99 Hardback ISBN 978-0-544-53126-0 hs Romance VG
Eden is the lucky one ... she survives a coma. Her hospital mate, Jaz, is not as lucky. She stays in a coma while Eden moves on with her life, learning how to eat, walk and relate to those around her. When Eden meets Jaz’s friend Joe, her recuperation becomes a love story. Many have wondered what happens in the moments before death, in the "In Between". Is there another level of existence when one is in a coma or is the lack of response indicative of exactly what it states. In the case of Eden following a fall into water and a hit to the head that knocks her into another “awareness”, she sees flowers and a girl who is trying to tell her something, a girl with angels tattooed on her arms. Eden is the lucky one, however. She wakes up. What comes after the inciting incident is the story of the recovery of a young lady who is lucky to be alive. The research needed to creatively weave together information about coma victims and a developing plot is spot on and real. As if that weren’t enough to create interest in her new novel, Estelle Laure introduces Joe, a young man who regularly visits his best friend Jaz, another coma victim. Eden discovers exactly what she needs to help her cope in Joe, finding in him what she is unable to find in her friends and her twin brother. Joe is someone with whom she can really communicate and just BE. Eden’s remarkable survival reminds her of her life left behind, with dance, studies, college applications and family. Yet she is unable to connect to her former self and return to normal. With the help of a therapist, she makes some progress toward dealing with her date with death. In an unusual twist, Eden finds herself able to see Jaz in her “other world” where Jaz remains, and discovers that Jaz does not want to come out of her coma. This shakes Eden to the core.
In the resolution, Laure presents many options. The one she chooses will satisfy young readers who like love stories to end happily. Laure uses a compelling writing style -- she knows how to add palpable emotions to her characters -- and a storytelling ability that will both entertain her readers. Its mature topic makes this a better choice for the high-school library, but a middle-school reader could handle the content. Readers who want a love story with a twist will enjoy the unique triangle formed between the protagonist, Joe, and Jaz, and the surreal nature of communication on another plane of existence.
Coma-Fiction --Martha Squaresky