When We Were Alive
by C.J. Fisher
Bobby wants to be a magician.
William drinks to cope with the tragedy of his past.
Myles writes letters to a mother he hasn’t met.
All I really knew about this book was that it followed three main characters that I assumed would wind up having something to do with one another, and that this would likely not be a happy, fluffy bit of fiction. I was not disappointed in either of those things.
The three story lines all begin in different decades, continuing at different paces until their relationships to one another are revealed. They don’t come together until late in the book, but they don’t feel out of place among one another either. And although there’s no distinct plot, I thing all the scenes worked together to highlight the three lives and portray the theme of the book.
The characters explore difficult and imperfect relationships, personal tragedy, and various attempts at finding ways to feel truly alive. It’s not unrealistic and over dramatic in its sadness, but it also doesn’t deliver a feel good ending to make up for anything that happens either. I tend to prefer my contemporary fiction this way. I also enjoyed the descriptive, but not flowery, writing style.