Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: Whiskey & Charlie By Annabel Smith

Title: Whiskey & Charlie
Author: Annabel Smith
Published Date: April 1st 2015

Whiskey & Charlie is a captivating debut novel of brothers who have drifted apart and the accident that will determine their future, by an unforgettable new voice exploring the struggles and strengths of the sibling bond.

Some twins communicate in a secret language all their own. For Whiskey and Charlie Ferns, the two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies is the best they can do. But as the brothers grow up, they grow apart. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not-bold, daring, carefree-and Charlie blames his brother for always stealing the limelight, always striving ahead while seeming to push Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.

When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, he is shocked...although perhaps not devastated. But as days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to look back on their lives and examine whether or not Whiskey's actions were truly as unforgivable as Charlie believed them to be.

(Synopsis Provided By Goodreads)

I don't even know where to begin with this review. Whiskey & Charlie was a story told with such emotion and heart. At every turn of the page I found myself thinking and feeling everything the characters did. I haven't teared up reading a book in a while now but Whiskey & Charlie brought me to tears! After reading the story I'm still not myself. It is a book that tells a story of someone else's life but will have you reflecting on your own in every way!

Charlie is the perspective we read from. At first we root from him - he is painted as the underdog of the twins and what Whiskey was like as a child/teen was a butt. But as Charlie grows up and time changes, he holds onto his grudging ways against his brother. At points in the story, he uses his hatred and animosity spitefully. As he grows up I found myself frustrated with his character. I wanted Charlie to grow up in a way but also I loved reading how trapped and stuck under Whiskey's shadow he felt. Great sense of duality in all ways - between the twins, their lifestyles, between Charlie himself.

Within a couple of pages Annabel Smith conjures up memories with painstaking realism. Every emotion that the characters go through translates through the words on the page to us. She captivates you with the inner dialogue of Charlie. The inner struggles of being twins is present but I think what was more unique is Smith's ability to capture a sibling relationship that anyone out there can relate to. Those moments of self deprecation the main character Charlie goes through, are ones that I believe everyone has encountered. The ideas of comparing yourself and finding yourself lacking is universal as well. It was beautiful how Annabel Smith wrote such a detailed story of two brothers and their relationship all the while making it relatable to anyone reading.

Charlie's lack of faith in Whiskey which I saw as an ultimate reflection/deflection of his feelings about himself were infuriating but at the same time so sad. When Charlie can't have faith in himself that someone would love him over Whiskey made for a very emotional read. When you have to second guess the love you give/are given, I think it is a very vulnerable state of being. We get a very good perspective through Charlie about this struggle. 

Juliet, Charlie's love, was nothing extraordinary but to Charlie she was everything about love. When he admits that he thinks it's inevitable that they'll break up because she can do so much better than him, I cried. The sympathetic writing that paints a very vulnerable Charlie was perfect. Vulnerability is prevalent all throughout this book and it's not used as a tool to show weakness but rather a way to describe Charlie. It seemed like the story wanted to show how vulnerability sometimes is just a part of who we are and we can't let it define us.

Ultimately, Whiskey & Charlie was a very dynamic book told in alternating chapters of past/present. It takes us to breaking points and beautiful points of Charlie and Whiskey's lives together and separately. This book is neither about Charlie or Whiskey in the end, I think it's a story about learning how to overcome your past in order to move forward. And the idea to overcome doesn't necessarily mean correcting your wrongs but rather learning how to accept. What separates this book from other stories that follow similar morals is that Whiskey & Charlie doesn't wrap up each problem or situation nicely. Sometimes there isn't a clean resolution, sometimes things aren't meant to be okay after what is done. This aspect of the book was what made me love it! 

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
Definitely an emotional read! Alternating perspectives from past to present. Author Annabel Smith really captures raw emotions and what it's like to grow up with siblings and yourself beautifully!


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