The Life That Follows by David Hartshorn book review
book review

Book Review: The Life That Follows

THE LIFE THAT FOLLOWS by David Hartshorn is sentimental and moving—an exceptionally human story of love and loss. Check out what Audrey Davis has to say in her book review of this indie literary novel.

The Life That Follows

by David Hartshorn

Genre: Literary Fiction

Print Length: 324 pages

Reviewed by Audrey Davis

Sentimental and moving—an exceptionally human story of love and loss

Owen McGivney, a 63-year-old retired attorney, has his future all planned out. But this novel reflects real life: things don’t always go as planned. 

Abruptly widowed and suddenly feeling lost, he contends with his heart and his feelings as friends and strangers come and go from his life, some requiring his help and some merely seeking a listening ear. Through new connections and memories of old ones, Owen learns to search for the answers to his questions by helping those around him. 

“If we were to remember and refuse to let go of all the last times in our lives, we’d never, even for a moment, stop grieving.”

David Hartshorn’s slice-of-life novel The Life That Follows presents readers with a window into life so clear it shines like reflective glass. This story skillfully illustrates human experience and relationships across multiple generations.

The characters breathe life into this novel, as those who come into our lives often help shape us. Owen may be the main character, but he’s not the same without his friends, family, and those around him. Self-realization is grueling. A way forward can be difficult to manifest without someone pulling back the curtains and letting in the light. 

From the outside looking in, one’s life may seem carefree or lucky, but when you genuinely get to know others, you realize everyone has their own personal rain clouds. Melancholy and happiness may wax and wane, but our memories and relationships stay with us. This book can remind us to “[k]eep teeing [our] ball up and chasing after it.” Even if the ball lands in the wrong place, it’s farther ahead than it was before. The author demonstrates this effortlessly through different evolving relationships. 

“The music meant more when one had to struggle to find it.”

Witty and entertaining interactions between the younger generations and the older help to keep the story lighthearted, such as bonding over deciphering the new, ever-changing slang, visiting an amusement park not seen in years, or discussing music tastes throughout the decades. The bittersweetness of the passage of time is very apparent, and these interactions, coupled with the many moralistic lines in this novel, ties this tangible story with a sincere message. 

This novel would be a great choice for those looking for something introspective and down-to-Earth. Poignant yet ultimately positive, the story leaves readers with an earnest feeling of connection and closure. Life can’t be picturesque Instagram photos and sunshine all the time, but we can make it better for each other while we are here. 

“Inevitably, life will impose its sorrows and its joys in unequal measure, and it’s up to us to deal with them as best we can. […] Our reason for being here, and the answer to getting through it all, is exceedingly simple: be kind to people. That’s all that matters.”

Thank you for reading Audrey Davis’s book review of The Life That Follows by David Hartshorn! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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