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12 October 2014

Review: 'The State We're In' by Adele Parks (2013)

What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.

She's a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he's a resolute cynic - cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.

People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn't even realise they needed.

Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it's when they get off the plane, that their true journey begins...

Adele Parks is one of the household names within the world of chick lit/women’s fiction. I’m a bit ashamed to say I own several of her books, but somehow never managed to actually pick one up and read it. That is, until ‘The State We’re In’ was released. In July 2013 the hardback version of ‘The State We’re In’ hit the shelves, followed by the paperback version in January 2014, and both times everyone seemed to be talking about this book and its secret ending. I have to admit, the publicity around this book was amazing because I saw it everywhere and I couldn’t wait to get a copy myself. I took the book with me on holiday this year, knowing it would be a guaranteed good read, and I really looked forward to sitting down it and finally discovering this ‘secret’ everyone was talking about!

The description of ‘The State We’re In’ is quite vague, resulting in readers starting the book without hardly any idea of what will happen to the characters. In times where we often already know the entire plotline of a book before actually reading it ourselves, I thought this was quite a refreshing experience and will therefore try to not give away too many details in my review. The book tells the story of two characters, Jo and Dean, who meet on a flight from London to Chicago. Jo and Dean appear to be each other’s opposite; Jo is a slightly ditzy hopeless romantic, while Dean is an attractive cynical business man who does not believe in love. Jo wants someone to talk to during the long flight to Chicago, while Dean just wants to travel alone and in silence. I’m not going to say much more about the plotline besides that after this flight, both Jo’s and Dean’s life will never be the same again.

A lot of people have said that this is Adele Parks’ best novel, but seeing as I haven’t read any of her other books I can’t really compare it to anything else. It took me a couple of chapters to get into the story, but as soon as I was I wanted to keep on reading and discover what would happen. The story is told from the perspective of four different characters: Jo, Dean, Clara and Eddie, and they’re all well-developed with fascinating and complicated background stories. The book deals with some universal themes: relationships, marriage, family ties, and Adele Parks explores these topics in an intriguing way. Her writing style is intense and detailed and even though this is my first Adele Parks novel, I am convinced she’s an amazing storyteller.

This book is surrounded by a lot of mystery and I think it is pretty amazing that if you look up reviews, everyone seems to respect the decision to keep the ending a secret. The publisher created the Twitter hastag #KeepTheSecret and it seems to have worked. However, all the buzz and excitement regarding this ‘secret’ prepared me for something big, something spectacular. And while the ending did not necessarily disappoint me, I couldn’t help but get a feeling like: Is this really it? Therefore, I recommend people who are thinking of picking up this novel to definitely pick it up, but do not just read it for the secret, read it for the wonderful story that’s inside. ‘The State We’re In’ is an intriguing and emotional love story; my first Adele Parks reading experience and it has definitely made me want to pick up more of her work in the future!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

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