I enjoyed reading P.S. I Love You years ago but never read anything written by Cecelia Ahern after that book. This book has been on my reading list for a while finally, I read it.
If You Could See Me Now has an intriguing premise. The story follows Elizabeth Egan, who likes everything to be in order, even her emotions. Coming from a difficult, and dysfunctional family dynamic; Elizabeth is responsible and stringent compared to her father and her sister. Elizabeth’s sister has left her six-year-old son, Luke in her care. Luke’s grown-up friend Ivan enters, and Elizabeth’s life turns in unexpected ways.
Elizabeth has had a turbulent upbringing. Her mom a free-spirited person, left Elizabeth, her father, and Saoirse, her younger sister. Elizabeth has to grow up early due to such circumstances. Her father is emotionally distant and her sister, Saoirse, is very much like their mother. Elizabeth has taken care of Saoirse from a young age and feels responsible for her. Saoirse leaves her six-year-old son, Luke, with Elizabeth and takes off. It likes history repeating itself. She is way too organized and stringent about her routine. She couldn’t control a lot of things in her especially early on. So now, she tries to plan everything in an attempt to control her own life.
In Cecelia Ahern’s fashion, the story has an element of magic to it. Ivan is Luke’s grown-up friend. He is Luke’s imaginary friend. At first, Elizabeth thinks that he is the father of a local boy. Ivan’s job is to help youngsters in need. Ivan becomes Luke’s best friend and tries to help him navigate life as much as possible. When Elizabeth starts seeing Ivan too, adults can’t see them most of the time, and Ivan decides to help Elizabeth too. The unfulfilled needs of her childhood and the fact that she did not have a normal happy childhood are the reasons Elizabeth can see Ivan.
Elizabeth and Ivan are different personalities. Ivan tries to bring Elizabeth out of her shell, getting her to do silly and spontaneous things. He understands where her need for organization and planning comes from and he tries to help her come to terms with her unhappy childhood.
There is growth in Elizabeth’s character as the story moves ahead. Though Ivan plays a role in it, she works on herself. Her rapport with Luke improves; she goes from being a reluctant parent to a friend and parent to him. She mends her relationship with her dad, forgiving him and herself for the strain between them. Elizabeth is already pretty introspective; Ivan gives her the nudge to make a better life for herself. Their love story is very cute, but the main focus is on the development of Elizabeth’s character.
The story is set in a suburb in Ireland. I don’t know how to put this, but the setting of Ireland in itself gives off a slightly magical/fairytale type of aura that plays well into the story. This world created by the author has a different set of rules, it is magical and quirky. Yet, the story seems grounded because of Elizabeth’s character. Her journey is relatable. The way she behaves or reacts is understandable when you think about the circumstances she has risen from. It makes her journey all the more satisfying. Ivan is an interesting character, considering he is not exactly human. He is patient and helpful, both with Luke and Elizabeth. He plays an important part in their road to healing. From the beginning, as a reader, you have an inclination that Ivan and Elizabeth’s romance is not going down the happy ever after route. I think this perfectly suits the plot.
I liked the way the element of fantasy in woven through the plot of this book. It doesn’t seem outlandish; although it is quirky in a way. The characters are great and the story if rooted. It ends somewhat on a bittersweet tone, but it makes sense. The writing is good, the characters are interesting and the pace of the story keeps you hooked. I enjoyed reading this book.
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