Genres: Love & Romance, New Adult
My name is Evelyn.
I met Devon and instantly fell for him.
Weeks later he fell for my best friend.
Never one to make waves, I watched as they started a life together. I stood by as their family grew, was the maid of honor at their wedding and the godmother to their children. All the while, I was longing for him, watching as he became the perfect husband and father. I was never jealous. I wasn’t even angry that my best friend had the only person I wanted. I had simply resigned myself to living without his love, but still being a part of his life.
Then, one terrible day, my best friend died.
She died and we all struggled to live life without her. Slowly, as the pain eased, our eyes opened and Devon finally saw me.
This is a story about second chances and second choices.
This is the story of how my life changed in the absence of Olivia.
Confession time. I started this book a few days ago but put it down because I couldn’t really get into it. I started reading it again yesterday afternoon and ended up not being able to put it down. It makes me think that my mood deeply affects how much I will like I book. Needless to say, I am really glad that I picked The Absence of Olivia back up.
This book is told in past and present. The past revolves around Evelyn and Olivia in college. Right off the bat, Evelyn meets Devon and it’s love at first sight for her. For a few weeks, Evelyn goes out of her way to find the mystery guy who lends her his shirt in a time of need. Unfortunately, she meets him again…as her best friend’s new boyfriend. As time goes on, Evelyn is still in love with Devon but from afar. There are also some slight feelings that Devon has for Evelyn but not enough to actually do something about it. I will say the times he does voice them to Evelyn while they are still in college utterly hurt my heart. I am honestly not sure how a girl can recover from hearing those sorts of things from a guy she is so in love with but can’t have.
“Olivia being dead isn’t the reason we can’t be together. But it can never be the reason we are.”
In the present, Evelyn has stepped in and taken over Olivia’s role after she passes on. She is there for her Olivia’s children each and every day attending to them and their needs. You can feel the unresolved feelings and the tension that builds up between them. It’s almost uncomfortable reading the scenes with Olivia and Devon as it’s just bitterly painful. The age old question, “now that there are no barriers, can this work” is definitely thrown around in both of their heads.
It’s not until someone points out that she is better than being second best that Olivia does some serious soul-searching. She has spent a large portion of her life in love with someone she couldn’t have. Thus, she has lost the person she once was. This story is a love story per se, but I think the larger picture is the love story that Evelyn has with herself. I loved the transformation she goes through and learns that she’s not second best nor should anyone treat her that way.
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life being someone’s second choice?”
I do wish that we got more of the present with Evelyn at the end. The ending was a smidge rushed and I wish we got to see a bit more. I also wish that Devon would’ve have been more forward with Evelyn in the present as well. I don’t really think he realized how he came across to the reader as a bit obtuse but yet I know that he was mourning and you can’t really judge people on how they handle it.
I am usually pretty good at figuring out what happens at the end of a book, but I was wrong in this one. I didn’t see the ending. At all. Which honestly was a great thing. This story was very angsty and hurt my heart a bit. It was totally worth it though and I’m so glad I picked it back up!