The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen
By Annie McDonnell
Andrea Lochen astonished me by managing to create a story about traveling back in time to relive 2011. She was so succinct in her story-telling that she made this possibility truly believable, needing very little explanation to understand the premise. I know other novelists that have written about time travel and they really had to delve deep to explain how the whole “going back in time” concept could truly occur. Andrea Lochen’s writing was not only very conceivable, but she was flawless in her efforts to explain how Olive was able to repeat the year 2011. She did not miss a beat on any specifics, absolutely no loopholes existed; it was as if this wondrous possibility was plausible for any of us. Upon opening the book, it was as if the book was wrapped in a bow, and given to me as a present that I would unwrap and devour like a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Andrea Lochen’s writing seemed effortless.
At the core of this novel was a 25 year old woman named, Olive Watson; who seemed to be living the perfect life. Her love life, family life, and work life were all going well until 2011, when everything fell apart within the confines of that one year. All of these drastic turns were taking a toll on Olive’s heart of hearts.
In 2011, Olive’s father had passed away, her mother was marrying another man that Olive did not deem worthy. She also managed to lose both her best friend, Kerrigan; and the love of her life, Phil Russell. For good!
But, when she woke up on January 1st, 2012 she noticed that something very strange had occurred. Every indication pointed to the fact that it was January 1st, 2011; again! Olive took some time trying to make sense of how this could have happened. It all seemed too far-fetched for her to comprehend that she was about to repeat the year. Was she in a dream? Had the past year even occurred? So many questions engulfed her.
Finally, that very first confusing day she spoke with her Mother’s neighborhood friend, Sherry Witan at her families annual New Year’s Day brunch, and everything came to light. Apparently, Sherry had Repeated quite a few years herself. They spoke only briefly, but Olive understood that this repeating of 2011 was her chance to change things that steered her life in a direction that she was not proud of or completely at peace with; let alone content.
Andrea’s writing flowed so effortlessly with a theory that seems truly outlandish; I mean how could we have a chance to repeat a year in our lifetime? I was very enthralled with the ease of the Andrea’s writing; the ebb and flow of her story-telling was mesmerizing. I read the book in a very quick two days, because I could not put it down.
Each character brings such meaning to the Olive’s life, each choice even more so. She had the possibility to change each decision she made in 2011. But, how could she go about doing that, without dealing with the moral consequences! Would there be any? Could every outcome be exactly how she wanted it to be? Was she that strong and powerful?
Sherry Witan is a very strong character in this book, yet weaves in and out just enough to remind you that Olive is not alone in this “Repeat Year” process. Sherry and Olive create a bond that was grounded on having their repeat year in common; but, soon finds it is even more than that.
Olive was so alive on each page! As the reader, I was truly engulfed by how much any slight choice, decision and action could change the outcome of Olive’s year. It made me consider some of the choices I had made in the past. Would I want a “Repeat year”?
You will walk away from this novel with a clear understanding that each moment in our lives can truly change our path. But, the question is, how does it change Olive’s life?
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