Review of Aurora by Emma McGeown
I admit that the reason I got curious about this book is that the author is from Northern Ireland, my adoptive place in the world. In a small country such as this, she might as well be my neighbour, so I decided to go ahead and read this. I’m glad I did because it was a very good story. I wish it was set in Ireland instead of London though, but it didn’t stop my enjoyment at all.
After being hit by a bus, Elena Ricci wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the last eight years of her life. The years when she broke up with her boyfriend, had a child and married her wife Keelin Jax. When the doctors recommend not to reveal the details of her new life to Elena, Jax and their son struggle to cope with their new reality and people from their past find a chance to interfere in their lives.
This is Ms. McGeown’s debut novel but don’t let that deter you from reading it as it’s very well written. I like the trope of amnesia but sometimes if it’s not done properly it might feel unrealistic. I had no big issues with this part of the plot except maybe for the portrayal of the five-year-old son but I won’t give any more details to avoid spoilers. There is an interesting twist from Elena’s past that contributes to the angst and emotional roller coaster that the characters have to endure. Elena will have to confront her old demons in a sort of maddening deja vu and Jax can do nothing but relive the nightmare again.
Written in first person from the point of view of both Elena and Jax, the reader has a first-row view of their feelings, mindsets and worst fears. Elena is sometimes a frustrating character but her coming out issues make sense in the context of the story. I thought that was done really well and highlights the pressure of family and society for many queer people. Coming out is never an easy process but sometimes is a terrible struggle and we should never take it for granted.
Overall, a very good debut by a promising author. I’m looking forward to reading her next book. 4 stars.