I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This is my first book by Holly Miller. What Might Have Been, has a unique concept, and it’s something that immediately caught my attention. The story follows Lucy, who is at a crossroads in life and has to decide her future.
The story begins with Lucy quitting her job at an advertising agency where she worked as a planner. She lives in Shoreley, where she grew up, and her family is there too. She is drowning her sorrows at the bar when she meets an interesting guy, and they seem to click. A few minutes later, she sees her ex-boyfriend Max from the bar window walking down the street.
Everyone wonders about the ‘what ifs’. I think that relatability is something that makes you like the characters from the start. There are timelines that this story follows. One scenario, the go one, is where Lucy decides to go to London and work as a writer at an agency and rekindle her romance with Max. The other timeline is the one, where she stays in Shoreley. She focuses on writing a novel and starts a relationship with Caleb, the guy she met at the bar for a few minutes that day. Both the go and stay timelines run parallel to each other. The way the story is written; keeps some things the same yet different in both timelines had me glued to the book. It is really difficult to pick which timeline is better.
The characters and their journeys are portrayed beautifully. Lucy is such a great central character. She is someone who has always believed in destiny, partly because of her parents’ fairytale romance. Her reactions to situations in both timelines are so grounded; it isn’t dramatic. In the London timeline, she is doing really well at her job, finally being paid to write like she always wanted. Her career takes off well there. In the stay part, professionally, she has to struggle more. Being confident enough to share her writing, working part-time, and trying to get her work published.
Her relationship with Max has a lot of history. They dated in college, and he breaks up with her abruptly. She always wonders if he was the one that got away. When she moves to London, they fall back into a relationship and pick up where they left off, but it isn’t all smooth sailing. The questions about Max’s abrupt breakup with her back then are answered, and she has to decide whether to make things work or let him go. With Caleb, her relationship is much smoother I guess in comparison. He has his baggage which Lucy needs to learn to deal with, but they seem like a good match. Her relationships with both Max and Caleb are good; both seem perfect for her. But it is about which what if is better for Lucy.
I loved this idea of ‘What’s meant for you won’t pass you by’ that is reinforced through the story. It makes a lot of sense in the way the story unravels. In the end, this makes complete sense. The novel gets emotional at times, and the ending is so bittersweet. The characters grow, and so do their relationships; it is not just about destiny but also about choice. The way the story ends is not something I expected, and like I said it’s bittersweet and emotional. In a sense, it’s a perfect way to end Lucy’s story, but it was surprising that’s for sure.
What Might Have Been by Holly Miller is beautifully written with great characters; the story keeps you invested from the first chapter itself, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. It is relatable, emotional, and hopeful. I loved it.
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