Hannah Sunderland comes to the blog with a deeply emotional story of grief, mental health, love, loss, and hope with
At First Sight
Nell has always wanted to help people – so much so that she’s one of the few paid volunteers at the Healthy Minds hotline, much like the Good Samaritans here in the states. While her work is fulfilling and she loves it, her personal life isn’t quite so marvelous. Broken up with her first boyfriend, she’s fallen into the trap of “convenience’, and while Joel is still very much in love with her and what the relationship meant for him (bills paid, food paid, a partner) she’s finally discovered that he’s not what makes her happy. After their split, she took a house share with a co-worker, Neil, and the two have a happily balanced relationship full of movie nights, takeaways, Celine Dion quotes and a love of Michael Bolton. With her mother in demand at her work and frequently in glamorous and removed locations, Nell has been ‘second place’ to much of her mother’s life – a place she’s happily occupied for years as ‘taking what she’s been given. But a chance meeting and no seats at the café near her work puts Nell in front of Charlie, a rather reserved, if not bellicose Irishman with a cold cup of tea, an ability to laugh at Nell’s need to ‘fill silence with words” and she’s smitten.
While that first meeting was precipitous, the second, a call at the helpline, brought her much more. Charlie called in – and Nell broke every rule possible: agreeing to meet him to talk and ‘become friends”. Here is where the story meanders a bit, as we deal with Charlie’s issues, his depression and his inability to deal with Nell’s rather happy and understanding personality – even as she’s finding the attraction to Charlie rather overwhelming. As the story unfolds, we see Nell struggle with her interest in Charlie, his on again, off again responses, and their truly compatible personalities, even with the depression, guilt and struggles. Particularly worsened as Charlie isn’t able at this moment to open up and share his story: much to Nell’s frustration.
What emerges is that slow journey through grief, depression and even suicidal ideation, from actual stories of attempts through an actual (if rather anticlimactic) attempt from her ex. Be aware that this book is full of triggering moments for many, and the pacing of the story – slowly unfolding can often prolong the questions from readers. But ultimately, it is truly worth it – showing steps that one person needed to take to get perspective and let go of the worst of the guilt, shame and find the confidence and hope to move on: always changed, but not stagnant. In finding and helping others, we also see how Nell finds her own two feet and confidence to put herself forward in her list of ‘needs’, something she’d never done before, and the little moments with both Charlie, Neil and Uncle Carrick, not to mention a heart to heart with her mother allowed the story to end with hope and possibilities for all. A bit twisty, darker and more emotional than one would expect with a few twists that made the story come full circle – this was a book that showed a bit of compassion, patience and hope work wonders.
Title: At First Sight
Author: Hannah Sunderland
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Dark-theme, Depression, Dual Narration, Friendship, Grief, Mental Health, Romantic Elements, Second Chance, Setting: Britain
Published by: Avon Books UK
Published on: 1 April, 2021
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 40 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
Two strangers. Two chance meetings. One extraordinary love story…
Nell and Charlie feel a spark when they meet by chance in a cafe. But they don’t trade numbers, or surnames, so there’s no way they’ll meet again.
But the next day, Nell’s phone rings at work. Somehow, impossibly, Charlie is on the other end. And he needs her help.
Nell is about to save a life, fall in love … and risk everything for a perfect stranger.
A copy of this title was provided via for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.