Book Review: Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper

I’ll admit it, I’m really behind in book reviews. Even though I’m a fast reader, and can even speed-read, it’s my last year of my English degree, and I’m required to read about two books per week, plus assignments and other readings. As such, I’ve regulated most of my reading for book reviews for reading on the bus. That said, rules are meant to be broken. Especially when reading books like Grasping at Eternity.

Even with my self-enforced ban on any review-reading, except on the bus, I was so compelled by this book that I found myself reading it between classes, before bed, sitting on my porch…you get the idea.

Grasping at Eternity is about Maryah, whose parents and brother are brutally murdered at the beginning of the novel. Maryah is almost murdered and left for dead, but is rescued by a mysterious force and recovers after several surgeries, save for the emotional trauma. Orphaned, she moves in with her hippie-esque godmother, her godmother’s husband, and their expansive family of  children, surrogate children, and other family members. What Maryah doesn’t realize is that they are a family of reincarnated souls who have lived many past lives, and that she herself has lived through many past lives. She also doesn’t realize that one of the Luna family’s children, Nathan is her soulmate, and that she must face grave danger in order to be with him.

I loved how this book started off structurally and emotionally strong and kept plugging through, pulling me along the entire way. Maryah’s emotions as she copes with the grief of her family’s deaths  feel very real, and she is very relatable as a character, not only in her grief, but also in her humour and spunky personality. I also loved the past lives/soulmates idea, which is original to many of the paranormal plots I’ve read recently.

If I have one complaint about this novel, it is probably the dual narration of Nathan and Maryah. Hooper does a good job of giving both characters distinctive voices, but I wasn’t overly keen on the dual narration. Usually I enjoy dual narration, but I felt that in this story, it slightly inhibited the mysteriousness of the plot by cluing the reader into Nathan and his family’s background almost immediately. It doesn’t take away from the plot, but I would have preferred to find out about the past-lives plot through Maryah’s point of view. Still, the emotional integrity of the story and a nice little twist at the end keeps things exciting enough to keep the reader turning the pages past bedtime. Recommended!

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