Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

by Heather Caliendo
review for the two lives of lydia bird - book club chat
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The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver is such an impactful read about coming to terms with grief. 

I loved Josie Silver’s One Day in December; it’s one of my favorite reads of the past couple of years. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. Josie has a way, very similar to Taylor Jenkins Reid, of writing emotional scenes that truly hit you to your core. She’s such a talented writer and really elevates the contemporary women’s fiction genre. 

So, of course, I’ve been looking forward to The Two Lives of Lydia Bird. This is another story that will grab you right away and I ended up reading it in one sitting. Both stories are quite serious with elements of humor—I would say Lydia Bird has the edge though in seriousness as she deals with the loss of her fiancé. But where they differ is the mystical realism element that is featured in this one. 

First, the synopsis: 

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade and Lydia thought their love was indestructible. But she was wrong. On Lydia’s twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.
 
So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants is to hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life—and perhaps even love—again.
 
But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.
 
Lydia is pulled again and again through the doorway to her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

Magical realism 

There seems to be a new trend with women’s fiction that opens the genre up to magical realism. In Five Years and Oona Out of Order but feature this as well as The Two Lives of Lydia Bird. This one is about Lydia seemingly living two alternate worlds where Lydia gets to experience one where Freddie lives while also dealing with her current reality with him dead.

It was quite intriguing and heart wrenching to read these two parallel lives. She’s so overjoyed when she gets to experience life with Freddie but it’s not perfect. And as she works to overcome her sadness in her present life, she begins to open up to new experiences. 

I’ve lost people in the past and I’ve had dreams with them in it that just felt so real. I could swear that it really happened. Imagine people able to see the people you’ve lost again, it truly is a thought provoking concept. If only it could happen, right?

Overcoming grief 

If you have experienced grief, you know that it’s constant and you never really get over it. You just learn to live with it while also realizing there is beauty in every day. I’ve read quite a few books that deal with grief in one way or another recently (Dear Edward). So The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is the latest in that category.

They all approach the topic with the care. There is a fine line between addressing sadness and becoming emotionally manipulative and they all have handled it well. I found myself relating to so much of what Lydia experiences in the novel with working to overcome her sorrow. It really is a realistic take. 

But the story is hopeful. Life doesn’t end when you lose someone and it’s all about working to gain control of it again. This story features one of the best endings I’ve read in such a long time. It truly is emotionally gratifying. 

This is a very impactful story and worth your time. 

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