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Last year, I really enjoyed the debut novel of Ali Harris, called Miracle on Regent Street. It was a lovely Christmas themed novel, and won my 2011 award for Christmas book of the year as well. I've been eagerly anticipating Ali's second book The First Last Kiss for a while now, and was so, so excited to receive a review copy a few weeks ago. I got stuck in as soon as it arrived because the cover was so beautiful, and I was so intrigued to read the story inside, which I have to be honest and say sounded totally different to her first book. I honestly could not put this book down, and think its one of the most beautiful and emotional books I have read in a long, long time.
Molly loves Ryan. Ryan loves Molly. Molly thought that this was her world, and she was happy with her lot. They met while at University, and despite a few ups and downs along the way, they've muddled through and are happily married, and looking forward to the exciting new things to come in their life together. However, when the pair receive some life-shattering news, Molly begins to document some of the kisses that she and Ryan have shared, as she's aware that each and every kiss that the pair share could be their last. Molly is forced to relive some of the happier, and less happy times, that her and Ryan have shared, and begins to write her very own love story.
It's hard to write a review about this book without spoiling the essence of the book because the main part of it works because you don't know what's coming up in the book. I had a feeling about what was happening with Ryan and Molly, but Harris chooses not to make it obvious, instead leaving the reader to wonder and reveal the story slowly but surely. As the plotline slowly comes to the forefront of the story, it's heartbreaking, sad, emotional and is hard to read because after this time, you've grown to love these characters despite their faults and foibles, and you just want a happy ending for them. Molly is such a realistic character, she does the wrong thing, says the wrong thing but has a good heart, and you can't help but love her. I loved her introduction to each kiss that is told in the book, and I feel that Harris really got into Molly's head when she wrote this. Ryan too was very likeable, I loved the close relationship he had with this family, and his mum in particular was hilarious and had me laughing out loud! He's kind, caring and a great man, and it was fun to see how his character grew as the book progressed.
What worked so well for me with this book was the emotion, and how it really touched me. There aren't many books that have me sitting there with tears running down my face and feeling genuinely sad and upset (Jojo Moyes' 'Me Before You' was the last one) but Ali Harris made me weep with this book. She manages to set up Ryan and Molly's relationship so well that you have to love them, you have to root for them and you want them to make it through the tough times they share. It isn't told in chronological order, instead a thread for the modern day pops up every now and then, and is interspersed with Molly's kiss memories, and this gives us all the points in Molly and Ryan's life that are important, and really set up their relationship well for the reader. It isn't hard to keep up, and I loved that it jumped around and showed lots of different sides to Molly and Ryan. Molly's first person narration is perfect for the book as well, as it helps convey her emotion, and really helped me get into the book as I was reading, desperate to find out what Molly's next memory would be.
This is a book that will touch you and will stay with you long after you turn the final page, and I know it is one I will be re-reading as soon as I get the chance to simply because I loved it so much. It is a beautifully written love story with characters that you'll care about, and a supporting cast that make the book feel whole, and have you laughing and crying all the way. Harris' writing is superb, she totally become Molly for the duration of the book, and you become lost in the love that Molly and Ryan share together, through the good and the bad. I urge you to find a copy of this stunning novel and read it yourself; it shows a real maturity and growth in Harris' writing from her debut, and makes me so excited to find out what she's going to bring us next. This is a wonderful story of love, the importance of loving and of being loved, and for living life to its potential. One of my favourite reads of all time, without a doubt.
ISBN: 978-0857202932. Published by Simon & Schuster UK on 17th January 2013. Pages: 496. RRP: £6.99. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review and to you for reading.