Book Review and Author Interview!
Reviews by: Lindsay Sparkes and Nina Gomez
When Ash loses her boyfriend, she is consumed by grief, loneliness and an overwhelming sense of guilt for her role in not only his death, but the deaths of everyone she has ever loved. Refusing to let anyone in for fear of losing them too, she becomes withdrawn, spending her days reliving the nightmares from her past.
Until she meets Luke.Initially scared by his intensity and interest in her, Ash tries to push him away. But as Luke slowly starts to chip away at the walls she’s built, Ash finds herself doing the one thing she swore she’d never do again — falling in love.
When the familiar feelings Ash had hoped were long buried with her past begin to resurface, she is forced to ask herself if falling in love again is really worth the risk
Lindsay’s Review: 3.5 Stars
Grief and love are two of the most powerful emotions we can experience. I Love You to Death explores what it is like to experience these emotions large scale. What would you do if every single person you love died over the short course of your young life? It's unimaginable.
I really enjoyed the concept of this book and understand why it was written the way it was. However, the telling of Ash's losses intermittent in the story becomes too much. At least for me. I could have done with a brief history at the beginning and just Sam's story mixed in, rather than so much back and forth. But, that is the point of the book. You either like that aspect or don't.
I thought the playlists and brief philosophical synopsis at the beginning of each chapter was a great touch. I only wish I knew the songs, because I was too busy reading to search them out. It would have made for a better experience.
All in all, I will definitely be picking up more from Natalie Ward. She put together a well thought out and executed book and have no doubt they will only get better.
Nina’s Review: 3.5 StarsWhat would your life be like if it was surrounded by death?
Natalie Ward’s portrayal of a young girl struggling to survive the many painful events in her life is both heartfelt and expressive. The story is well written and the flashback events are fluent and cohesive. Oh, and I have to tell you. I liked the playlists that were included at the beginning of every chapter. As the story unfolds, you begin to understand the reasons for Ash’s reluctance to have healthy and enduring relationships. To Ash, nothing in her life can ever be permanent. As she painfully recounts every event that has lead her up to this point in her life, this is where it starts to become a little bit too coincidental, a little bit unbelievable. I found myself thinking over and over again, “oh no, don’t tell me…”, as each new person’s story began. What happened to Sam alone would have been enough to drive a person over the edge. But did it have to happen to all of them? Was Ash’s experience with Sam not enough to provide the basis for the rest of the story? That the power of someone else’s love can heal even the most broken of hearts? This review therefore offers up a contradiction in more ways than one - although I did not get lost in the book, it did hold my ardent attention until the very end. I did root for Ash and wished for her eventual happiness. No one deserves the anguish of losing so many people in one lifetime.
Interview with Natalie Ward
The book’s main premise is centered around a subject that might be disturbing for some. What better way to understand her point of view than to reach out to Natalie Ward as she gives us, in her own words, her thoughts about the book:
The book is centered around two very sensitive topics – death and death experienced by a young individual. What inspired you to write this book?The book started when I was walking down the street to buy lunch and Sam’s letter popped into my head. I have no idea where it came from, but I went back to work and wrote it down, literally as it stands now. Then it just got me thinking about death and how you would feel if you thought you caused it and having to go through the 5 stages of grief over and over again. Not long after, I was making a friend a music playlist and Luke popped into my head and he got me thinking all about the stages of love and falling in love and how different that is to the stages of grief. Thinking about it, I realized that despite being different, they are both equally powerful and generate very strong emotions. So then I just tried to combine them together, using one to heal the other, and the book is the result.
Can we get an insight into why you chose to explore these topics?
I must admit, I do have a morbid fascination with death…and it scares me, a lot. I never set out with the intention of writing a book about people dying and it still surprises me now, how much all the death affects people. I think the main interest for me, was looking at the different stages of grief and how powerful they are. I wanted to explore what that could do to a person and how you would react to it, especially if you had to go through it over and over again. Almost as if it was literally killing you at the same time. How would you come back from that?
The main character, Asha lives her life with inner turmoil and angst. Was it difficult to convey her feelings in writing? How difficult was it to pull your thoughts together and conclude a story that had so many loose ends to tie up in terms of Asha’s fears for the future?
She does and I’ll be the first to admit, she is a depressing person to be around in the beginning. But I thought she had a reason to be and I hoped that came through when her background was revealed. There were times when it was difficult to write her feelings yes, and I didn’t know if the reasons for why she felt the way she did were coming through, but I just tried to show how destroyed she was. How utterly alone and lonely she was for something that was, in effect, beyond her control and not her fault. The book to me is not really about all the death, but rather living. It’s about what people need to live and survive, and all the death Asha had to suffer through was just a tool to show her what it really means to live. As for the ending, that was tough. When I first wrote the book, I had no idea how to end it. All I knew was that Luke was not going to die, that was always a certainty. It came to me one night about half way through the writing process and that’s when I realized that to end her story, Asha had to face her fears, but more importantly she had to fight and make her own choices…something she had never really done before. Because that’s what living is.
Was there a message you were trying to convey by writing this book? If so, what is it?
There were many messages actually, some more obvious than others. It’s easy for me because I wrote them all in there and there are still some things that have never been noticed by people so maybe I made them too subtle! But I think the big take home message was said by Luke – “life is too short to live without the things you want, to not fight for the things you love.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you raised, and does this have any impact on your writing
Born and raised in Australia, but also lived in the UK and the US. I actually lived in Providence RI and worked in Boston, so that part definitely impacted this story because I always wanted the book set in the US and living there helped. Although I know I still got some words wrong J As for the impact on my writing, I have a crazy over-active imagination and get inspired to write from something as simple as a text message or an overheard conversation, so I can probably find that anywhere!
Do you use self experiences to inspire your topics
Yeah it’s a scary thing to admit, but there’s a lot of me in I Love You to Death, a lot. I think it’s why I kept it a secret for so long. Up until the book came out, only 4 people knew I was even writing it. And even now it scares me a lot that people I know are reading it. Asha’s thoughts, particularly at the start of each chapter…if you want some insight into my brain, that’s it!
Where and when do you most get the motivation to write? In the mornings? At Starbucks? Etc.
Oh we don’t have Starbucks in Australia anymore L but, I never write in chronological order, ever! It’s weird because I am normally an organized person, but with writing, it is epic chaos! Whatever comes to me, I just write it down as fast as I can…I can be writing one scene and something pops into my brain and I have to move to another spot and write a completely different scene. Others I’ll struggle to write because it just won’t appear in my head. A lot of my ideas come at the most inconvenient times too, like when I’m driving or trying to sleep…I don’t tend to get a lot of sleep because of my writing actually.Do you have any new projects coming up in 2013? Can you share them with us?
Yes I do! I am currently writing Luke’s book, which I hope to have out early 2013. When I was writing ILYTD, I wrote a lot of stuff from Luke’s POV just to get inside his head. It’s not something I consciously thought of doing, but since Ash’s book came out I’ve noticed a lot of people wanted to know what he was thinking too! But his book is not just a re-telling of hers, because he has his own story to tell. I feel like that about all the characters actually, I know everything about them, their backgrounds and lives. I have Jared and Mia’s story a third done too, so we’ll see how that one goes. I am also working on something completely separate and very different to ILYTD, but that is very early in the writing stages.What has the reader reaction been to your book?
To be honest, I’ve been blown away by the reader reaction. This was a story I wrote for me because it was in my head and I never really knew what to expect because I know it’s not your typical romance or whatever. It is dark, depressing and a bit out there and it was very scary putting it out into the world and not knowing what people would think. I was very fortunate that 3 gals from two review sites asked me for early copies and loved it. Jen, Gitte and Natasha have been beyond amazing for me, and with Sarah creating an awesome cover, it has helped more than anything I could ever do. Of course there are reviews that don’t like the book and I fully accept that, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But overall, it has been amazing and I am blown away everyday by the reviews and messages I receive. Especially the ones about Luke…they make me smile and are the reason I am finishing his story, even if it was something I never planned to.
Connect with Natalie Here
Buy the Book Here