Title: The Locked-Away Life
Author: Drew Davies
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 4th 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: July 2nd 2022
Pages: 326

“I know sometimes you need to make a bad decision, to get to a better place. Even if it’s a destructive one.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again!!

There was just something about the blurb of The Locked-Away Life that intrigued me immediately. It probably had a lot to do with the promise of an older main character as well as two completely different characters becoming unlikely friends… I tend to enjoy both in a story, and I fully expected to have a great time with this contemporary. Somehow I ended up having mixed thoughts instead, although I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why. It might simply not have been the right time for me to read this story, but the fact remains that I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I thought I would.

I still like the premise of The Locked-Away Life as well as the idea behind the two main characters Esther and Bruno. Both have their own struggles and secrets and it was interesting to see the two meet up, slowly get to know each other and help each other grow. The small town setting was great, and I liked the dept of the story with multiple elements incorporated into the plot. The story itself is told with the help of a dual POV structure, switching between Esther and Bruno to help give us a full picture of both their lives.

Why didn’t this story work that well for me personally then? I’m still struggling to point out the exact reason, but it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I found the pace to be considerably slow. I know that this story is mostly character driven, and this type of story tends to be slower in general… But there were certain parts that dragged considerably, and it took me a lot longer than usual to finish this story. I also never warmed up completely to the main characters; I somehow liked the idea behind their characters and what they represent more than the actual characters themselves. I know I’m in the minority with these feelings though, because most people do seem to love them. That said, I did think that the reason behind Esther shutting herself away for all those years was a bit of a cliche as well as an overreaction on her part.

All in all I suspect this story simply wasn’t a right fit for me despite the fact that I usually do enjoy contemporaries with an older main character and a focus on unlikely friends. I still love the premise though, and I think most people who enjoy the genre will have a better experience reading The Locked-Away Life. Definitely don’t give up on my account!

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