I finished Julie Myerson’s Then over two weeks ago and it just won’t leave me alone. It creeps up on me in quiet moments, its final, devastating scenes crashing into my head at the strangest times.
It is a serious piece of writing. Julie Myerson is a serious writer, and I raced through it in less than twenty-four hours. I’m just not sure if I actually enjoyed it. What it did do was leave me blubbering like a mad woman on the sofa, my heart in bits. Then moved me more than anything I’ve read for a very long time.
I’m a girl who likes a happy ending … or at least a glimmer of one, so I’ve been searching for something redemptive, something good to take from the experience of reading Then. What I have come to realise is that this is a book that has made me grab my family that little bit closer; it’s a book that has made me grateful for the comparative sanity of our world. Yes, we live on a pretty fucked-up planet, but compared to the landscape Julie Myerson paints, this is truly Disney Land. What lingers though, and scares me the most, is the portrait she paints of the dark places we can go to in our own minds, when everything else falls apart.
My advice? Don’t read it if you like books with happy endings. Do read it if you want to cry ugly, messy tears like a wild thing. Then by Julie Myerson is quite something.