With elements of The Wizard of Oz, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Lovely Bones, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead shows how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, and how sometimes we can get a second chance.
On the way home from a dinner party she didn’t want to attend, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.
It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident. Or does God have a higher purpose after all?
At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that she needs to find a way home…
Published by Accent Press January 26th 2017
I’d seen the cover for The Things We Learn When We’re Dead hovering around social media and it stood out making me want to know more about the book, so when I read the description and got the chance to read the book I of course jumped at the chance.
Described as a modern fairy-tale of love and loss and, for those readers who want to make the connection, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz, I was really eager to see how The Things We Learn When We’re Dead would go. I loved The Wizard of Oz when I was wee and if I’m totally honest I still do so I had high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Lorna Love is young, has her whole life ahead of her until one evening she steps in front of a car. When Lorna wakes up she’s in a strange room, she can’t remember anything and is served wine for supper. What then follows is the story of Lorna remembering her life, her childhood, the decisions she’s made and the big question, why did God pick her?
What a wonderful story this was, and one I’m so happy I’ve read. With the story beginning with the END and Lorna’s demise we slowly learn about Lorna as she herself remembers her past growing up in North Berwick, her family life, her move to Edinburgh to train to become a solicitor and so much more. Lorna is such a great character, there was a realness to her and it was very easy to get swept away in Lorna’s story. I couldn’t help feeling all the emotions as Lorna’s life was revealed, it was very easy to fall into this story and become invested.
I will admit when I started this book I thought I was going to be reading a quirky sci-fi take on the Wizard Of OZ, I wasn’t expecting what I got which was a story that shows you that what ever decision you make, whether it be small or large, it can have an impact on not only your life but others as well. It’s a story about acceptance, about how we can’t change the past but maybe, just maybe we can change the future. Oh and also hamsters, yes you read that right, hamsters. The pesky little things that have taken over Heaven or HVN as it is now called.
Filled with wonderful characters, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is a fantastic story that is incredibly well written. It’s quite a chunky book but I got so engrossed, before I knew it I was at the end. It’s unique, thought-provoking, sad and oh so funny at times. It really is an all rounder and one I’ll highly recommend.
I’ve found it really hard to write this review with the fear I’ll give away any spoilers so what I will say is that The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is definitely worth a read, I think it will appeal to many and its a story that stays with you.
My thanks got to the author for this copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
About the author
Charlie Laidlaw was born in Paisley and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He has been a national newspaper journalist and worked in defence intelligence. He now runs his own marketing consultancy in East Lothian. He is married with two grown-up children.