contemporary · review

On The Other Side – Carrie Hope Fletcher

“Your soul is too heavy to pass through the door,
leave the weight of the world in the world from before.
Once it is lighter your key shall then turn,
and you will be able to have what you yearn.”

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Blurb: “Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year old self and the door won’t open. Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late.”

On The Other Side is the first fiction novel from Carrie Hope Fletcher and earned her the number one spot on the Sunday Times’ Fiction Hardback Bestseller list.

The story follows Evie who finds herself in the body of her twenty-seven year old self in the apartment building she lived in during her time. She goes to her old apartment door and finds that she can’t open the door. With the help of her deceased building doorman Dr Lieffe, she learns that if you lived a good life, when you die to go to your favourite place – your own personal heaven- which to Evie is this building. Her soul is weighed down by three secrets she’s accumulated over her life and needs to unburden herself in order to fully pass on.

Carrie was in an interesting position with this book as no one knows what happens after you die, therefore no reader can argue how “realistic” the interpretation of the afterlife is. Which leaves a lot to play around with.

I really liked the characters. Each and every single one of them that I crossed paths with over the course of this book stayed with me until the last page. They were all so well written and felt like real people you might come across in life if you’re lucky enough. There’s some diversity in terms of sexuality (during a Q&A Carrie mentioned that society is so diverse and there’s nothing wrong with introducing and normalising these differences through her work) but I’m becoming exasperated at bisexual representation in literature. This is no entire fault of Carrie because I’ve reached a point where I’ll take what I can get, but the bisexual characters in literature always seem to be men. I’m yet to find an abundance of bisexual female characters scattered across the pages of books.

I liked the overall plot though some parts were questionable and after a few times of re-reading I’m still not fully sure what and how things happened in certain places.

My main issue with this book was the plot order. Evie’s unfinished business requires her to go back to three different people from her life and tell them a secret and when she goes back into the living world to do this she will say “I need to go and see…” then it was another 30% of the ebook before you actually got to see what took place with that person. This is because there’s a lot of flitting from past to present in order to get a better understanding of who Evie was to flesh her out and the very obvious and fundamental love story. I found all of it really good in terms of storytelling and writing but it just all felt out of order; like it had been thrown together in the early stages and then not fiddled around with. There was no clear indication of whether you were in the past or present which became confusing. (I found out through a Q&A that the chapters with the branch symbol referred to the past and chapters with the door symbol referred to the present but it’s no good learning that AFTER finishing the book when it’s not clear while reading) I wanted to take the book apart and reorder it to see if it would have worked better the way I pictured it in my mind.

If it wasn’t for the wonderful characters and engaging plot points, I would have given up on this book completely. Which is a shame because I expected more from someone as creative as Carrie.

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book event · discussion

All I Know Now – Carrie Fletcher Book Signing

Yesterday I went on an adventure to Birmingham for the signing of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s book “All I Know Now” (click here for my review). I had never been to Birmingham before so I was excited at the prospect of getting to explore a new city. Naturally, I fell into several book stores. Some things never change. I also got to share this experience with my wonderful boyfriend.

The queue to get into the Waterstone’s was so long that it literally stretched around the outside of the building… and it was raining… and I didn’t bring an umbrella…
I love book signings simply for that fact that you are surrounded by people, clutching the same book as you, and they love it just as much as you do. It’s an indescribable feeling – I later discovered that 200 people had attended the signing. There were drinks and cupcakes on arrival along with rows and rows of chairs facing a stage on which Carrie would soon make her appearance.

Carrie walked out to cheers with a massive smile on her face, rocking a beautiful dress and her famous blond curls. The man giving the interview asked important questions such as if Carrie had intended for the All I Know Now blog to become a book, to which she replied that that was the dream but it becoming a reality was a “happy accident.” Author Giovanna Fletcher was given a mention when the interviewer asked if the sister-in-law had helped her with the writing process, and naturally, Carrie only had nice things to say. It was lovely seeing a closed up, clearly nervous Carrie become more relaxed, eliciting jokes which had the audience in fits of laughter. She then read a chapter from her book – “The Disgusting Business of Falling in Love.” As I listened, I was reminded of just how incredible human beings actually are.

She even treated the audience to some music. Donning her acoustic guitar, she belted out a cover of Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together and her original song Boys In Books Are Better.

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Then questions were opened up to the audience: aspiring theatre performers asked for audition advice, Once Upon A Time fans asked her about the show and her “ships”, which character she’d love to play on the West End now that her dream of playing older Eponine has been fulfilled (Her answers were Elphaba in Wicked and Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family). But the question that had Carrie flailing in her chair the most was “if you could bring one fictional character to life, who would it be and why?” – She never did give an answer.

So on to the actual signing!
My boyfriend and I joined the queue and while we waited, cupcakes were handed out (life doesn’t get much better than that!) Forty minutes later, we were at the front. Greeted with a smile, we handed our books over and had an opportunity to talk to her. I told her that I benefited most from her chapter about accepting yourself as I am a true criminal of the “you have to say that you’re my friend/boyfriend” statement whenever I’m complimented. I also told her that one of the things that kind of led to my boyfriend and I getting together was the fact that we both watch her videos. This made Carrie really excited and she called us “the hopeful couple.”

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Non-Fiction · review · young adult

All I Know Now – Carrie Hope Fletcher

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Blurb: “I’m not an expert on ‘life’ (things I am an expert on: cake, Disney, making the perfect cuppa – that’s about it) but I think I do know a bit about what’s worrying you and maybe, with a little bit of luck, some of my stories will make you smile, make you think and, most of all, give you faith that it will all work out all right in the end. Because it will. Promise. All I Know Now is not all that much, but I hope it’s enough to help.”

On a trip to my local Waterstones I came across a table full of piles of All I Know Now a day before release! After asking a bookseller if I could buy it (who then asked the manager just to be sure) , I was handing over money at the till. I was the first person to buy a copy of a newly released book at that store. (LEVEL UP!)

I have been patiently waiting to get my hands on this book and prior to reading it, I read the Daily Mail article in which she was interviewed about her book. One thing she said that really stood out to me was “my bullies were the making of me.” I too, like Carrie, am on the other side of my teenage years (How am I twenty-one?!) and I can relate to this statement so much. While the bullying I experienced was horrific and I still think about it occasionally, it was the “making of me.” I don’t think I would be as nice, kind and willing to go out of my way to help those struggling had I not known what it felt like. (I’m not saying I wouldn’t help people if I hadn’t had these experiences, but I always make sure my peers are happy and doing okay and support them the best I can)

Carrie Hope Fletcher is a fantastic woman who proves that no matter how hard those pesky high school years can get, you can come out the other side relatively unscathed: with a massive youtube following, starring in the arena tour of War Of The Worlds and returning to the West End in her dream role of older Eponine in Les Mis, I think she’s having the last laugh.

This book is a non fiction, self help guide but also a semi-memoir. It tackles a vast range of important topics from: how to act on the internet, to consent, to secrets, appreciating yourself more and learning to admit when you’re wrong. What I loved about this book is that Carrie admits that she isn’t flawless and that, as human beings, there is no such thing as being ‘perfect.’ She backs up every bit of her advice with some element of her past to show that it is possible to make these changes. The important thing is, while she made mistakes, she learned from them and rectified them as much as she could. She talks about dealing with negativity and in her chapter “Handling Haters” she says “Occasionally I’ll favourite the tweet or reply to say it’s a shame they feel that way but, in spite of that, I hope they have a lovely day.” – This is the kind of positive I am going to work on.

She talks about how to be honest without being cruel and I too am guilty of not accepting someone’s kindness. My boyfriend frequently tells me I’m pretty/beautiful/kind/intelligent and I will respond with “you have to say that you’re my boyfriend” to which he will tut and say “one day you’ll believe me.” Well, from now on, I’m going to start working towards that “one day.” The next time he or anyone else compliments me, I’ll say “thank you” or “damn right I am!”

This book has truly changed my outlook on so many things and I hope this helps anyone out there struggling with any of the topics discussed in her book.
(Also the table of contents is displayed as a theatre programme, why WOULDN’T you want this book?!?)

For some samples of the book check out the blog that became the book.

For Carrie’s videos check out her Youtube

For her twitterly wonderings follow her on Twitter

For more of my reading adventures follow my Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For bookish photographs follow me on instagram: charlottereadsthings