Reading is one of the greatest joys of my life, each new book I delve into having the power to leave a small but enriching mark on the way I view the world around me, but never has a story challenged my every thought, questioned every preconception, shaken every belief I thought I had on so many subject matters as profoundly as The Ever Trilogy has. Even though this series is made of three distinctive components, each book bearing very little semblance to the other two by carrying a very unique tone, they all tell one collective story – the story of Ever, Caden and Eden, and the cruel hand that life dealt them. And just as I expected, Jasinda Wilder has proven once more what an astonishing storyteller she is, giving us a tale that dares us to think outside the box, pushing us out of our comfort zone, but making us love every single heart-wrenching second of it.
“Some days, I think your letters are all that keeps me sane.”
The inception of this story lies in the enduring friendship between Ever and Caden, two people who meet very early on in life, but whose bond grows over time, even though it is only based on a regular exchange of letters over a five-year span. They have both endured more pain and loss than most people of their age, but their friendship anchors them, gives them an outlet for their doubts and insecurities, warning off loneliness and allowing them to grow up knowing that there is at least one person somewhere in the world who cares about them. When they meet again as adults, their feelings for one another are already set in stone, time, distance and a decade of confiding in each other having only strengthened the tie inexorably binding them together. It takes no time at all for them to become lovers, companions, each other’s everything.
“You’re all there is, all I know. All I need.”
But life brings forth the ultimate tragedy, the test of all tests for a young relationship as theirs, and immeasurable happiness suddenly turns into despair, darkness, the horror of living in limbo for almost two long years.
“I’m someone else now. This… hole in the world, man-shaped. Me-shaped. A vacancy.”
We watch Caden as a man fighting not to lose hope, every day testing his resolve and courage to go on, but his love for the woman he cannot stop loving never allowing him to give up on her. When his spiralling depression finds its mirror in Ever’s twin sister Eden’s own anguish, they become each other’s crutch, each other’s venting mechanism and each other’s comfort. Misery and loneliness blur the lines that would otherwise never be crossed, and soon mistakes are made than could never be undone.
“You depended on a life raft in a turbulent sea; you didn’t fall in love with it.”
Eventually, life gives them all the ultimate gift of a second chance, nothing short of a miracle, but what follows is a heartbreaking journey of mending hearts, finding new directions in life and rediscovering old ones.
I cannot put into words how much this story overwhelmed me and touched every edge of my heart. While full of highs and lows, I found the true beauty of this tale in the in-betweens, in the moments of real life when the characters had to learn to cope with the situations before them and find the strength to keep coping. Three journeys that each in their own right can only be described as heroic, three imperfect people bound by the selfless love tying them together – this is a story that will confront you, inspire you, push you to see life through these characters’ eyes and LIVE it with them. You might feel compelled to judge these characters for their mistakes, strip them of all that is positive in them rather than delve into what drives them to make those mistakes in the first place, but I urge you to give this story a chance, give these wonderful characters the opportunity to prove their humanity to you and redeem themselves. This is not a fairy-tale. This is not a story about perfect people with perfect lives and perfect fates. This is a story about extreme emotional agony, desperation, human endurance, devotion, and ultimately, a story about forgiveness.
Three different books, three very distinct puzzle pieces fitting perfectly into each other and giving us one of the most extraordinary and truly engaging reading journeys of our time. I feel enriched and grateful for this story, a story so unique and honest, not to mention flawlessly written, that it deserves nothing less than my Six Stars of Excellence.
“Forgiveness is a choice, and so is love.”