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Then and Always by Dani Atkins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

e-book, 207 pages Published May 20th 2014 by Ballantine Books (first published 2013) Available on: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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Then and Always is the American title for the British novel: Fractured by Dani Atkins. I don’t understand the title change, as fractured fits the story better in my opinion.

The cover is a nice cover. It for sure attracts the female public the book is directed too. To me it evokes a love story that can stand the test of time. Even though in the end, this was not this kind of story to me, I can’t deny that it’s a nice cover.

Then and Always is a good story. You can say it starts with a buzz. Rachel is 18 and about to leave for college. She has Matt, her perfect gorgeous boyfriend. And her best friend is Jimmy. She meets her friends at a restaurant and then an accident happens and their lives are forever altered. This first scene made an impact on me. Let me say that from now on, I’ll have to think twice before sitting by the windows in restaurants. You never know what might happen!

And then flash forward 5 years, Rachel comes back home and another accident happens and as you read you get sort of confused, not knowing what is reality and what is not. There are two realities/worlds. First I believed that what Rachel believed was true, but then again, some things didn’t make sense. But in the midst of this reality confusion I kept reading. It is written in a way that even though I knew I wasn’t fully invested in this story, I wanted to find out what happened in the end.

Despite the fact that the ending was quite predictable, the last part of the story kept me turning the pages non-stop. But then I read the ending and was dissatisfied. Didn’t like it. It didn’t make me feel happy or sad. It was just “meh”. I thought it would be a happily ever after ending but it’s not.

I like my reviews to be spoiler free, but in this case I can’t explain why this book wasn’t the greatest love story ever for me without throwing some major plot spoilers. If you haven’t read this book, skip the spoilers. Your reading experience will be totally different from mine and you might adore this story like almost everyone else seems to have.


My beef with this story is that there is a love triangle. Team Rachel, Team Matt and Team Jimmy. I was Team Matt. Team Matt loses in the end. I couldn’t find any reason to hate Matt. Matt was the perfect boyfriend. Matt in all his gorgeousness loved her since high school. They had a great life together. He was her happily ever after before her accident. Despite all of that, in her coma, she decides her feelings for Jimmy are stronger. And the only way for the author to justify Rachel choosing Jimmy was creating a world in which Matt was a cheating bastard. That my friends is not fair.

Why would the author make you invest time by describing how perfect Matt is? All emphasis on Matt. I made a connection with Matt. And then there’s Jimmy. Yes they mention Jimmy as the best friend but that was all. No connection. And when we read about her relationship with Jimmy, we could see their friendship, but in no way we could see how she could’ve been in love with him. At least I couldn’t. It was obvious that Jimmy was in love with her, but she was portrayed as being happy and fulfilled with Matt. And then suddenly Matt is despicable and Jimmy who was supposedly dead, turns out to be the last Coca-Cola on earth and she should choose him because: BAM! She is desperately in love with her best friend! Really? It just didn’t make sense for her to choose Jimmy in the end.

My other problem with the book was that I couldn’t bond with Rachel. Her depression after Jimmy’s death was too much. I mean taking the blame for his death, and feeling wrong was OK, but not to the point that she didn’t fulfill her journalism dreams or that she didn’t have Matt in her life because she was incapable of moving on. She was the damsel in distress that didn’t want to get out of the distress position ever. Not my kind of chick.

Also, the book was written in Rachel’s point of view. It was a selfish point of view, because it was all about the guy’s pros and cons. Never about her flaws. I think Rachel was afraid because her insecurities made her feel like she didn’t deserve the gorgeous perfect boyfriend. In both of Rachel’s realities/worlds, Matt loved her. Even in the world where he cheated, he wanted to make it up and love her forever. But she was scared and preferred to run from what could’ve been a dream future to a sort of safe one in her afterlife with Jimmy. Don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s how I see it.

I don’t like cheaters. But in this book I was team Matt. End of story. Ha ha ha.


To recap, Then and Always is not a bad book, it is a conventional love story. Chick lit, just that. I wanted to adore this book, as I had seen so much praise for it online. I expected it to be one of those amazing breathtaking love stories but sadly for me it wasn’t. Yes it had its good moments. But I wasn’t completely melted away by it. And that Titanic-ish ending, was too predictable. The premise had a lot of potential, but it could have been executed in a better way. It’s a fast and easy read, a good story, just not one I would run to the bookstore to buy.

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  • slalomed:  intransitive verb. To move over a zigzag course in or as if in a slalom
  • leer: verb. To look at someone in an evil or unpleasantly sexual way.
  • eke: transitive verb. To get with great difficulty. Archaic for increase, lengthen.
  • daft: adjective. 1. strange often in a way that is funny. 2. crazy or foolish.
Words have multiple meanings, what you read are those that apply at how the word is used in this book.
All definitions taken from the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.

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 It’s impossible to stay in a bad mood when you’re decorating a Christmas tree. There’s something about the twinkling of fairy lights and the glint of fragile glass baubles reflected in the light from the fire that simply sucks all feelings of negativity from you, however hard you try to hold on to them.

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click to buy from amzon US Paperback

click to buy on Amazon UKPaperback

*UK Audible version of Fractured. **Aug. 1 Fractured is the free book of the week on Itunes Australia.

I received a copy of this book but was not financially compensated in any way nor obliged to review. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my personal experience while reading it. This post contains affiliate links as stated in my disclosure policy.