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Editorial note: I received a copy of Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
Book review and synopsis for Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major, a heartwarming and emotionally charged novel that explores the depths of grief, the pursuit of happiness, and the transformative nature of second chances.
This amazing novel is also Reese’s Book Club Pick for November 2023!
Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major
About the Author
Cesca Major is a talented writer known for her novels and screenplays. She has been nominated for the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Award, HWA Gold Crown and the CWA Gold Dagger Award.
Her latest book, Maybe Next Time, was chosen by Reese’s Book Club, and is being developed into a film by Hello Sunshine and Apple Originals. Cesca also has another exciting story about love and body swapping, If I Were You, coming out in 2024, which is also being made into a film.
Apart from writing, she enjoys hosting or speaking on panels and films vlogs about the writing process. She runs writing retreats, mentors for the Black Girl Writers and has taught creative writing for Jericho Writers & the Henley School of Art.
Maybe Next Time follows the story of Emma, a dedicated literary agent, who finds herself trapped in a seemingly endless time loop in the heart of bustling London.
It all begins on an ordinary Monday when Emma’s life is a chaotic whirlwind of work, family obligations, and social media distractions. Preoccupied with her ever-growing to-do list, she fails to notice the subtle signs of her family’s distress – her husband Dan’s quiet sorrow, her son’s withdrawn demeanor, her daughter’s emotional retreat, even the melancholy state of their family dog, Gus.
On the evening of their forgotten wedding anniversary, a heated argument with Dan propels him out the door with Gus for a walk. In a tragic twist of fate, Dan is struck by a car and dies. Devastated, Emma goes to sleep, only to wake up to the same Monday morning again, reliving the day of Dan’s death. And then it happens again, and again.
As Emma grapples with the surreal nature of her predicament, she embarks on a relentless quest to alter the course of events. With each repeated day, she makes different choices, attempts to mend broken relationships, and tries to rediscover the essence of her own identity. The time loop becomes a canvas for Emma to explore the intricate threads of her life, forcing her to confront the issues she had been avoiding – her strained marriage, her neglectful parenting, and her overwhelming career-driven existence.
In her quest for redemption, Emma reevaluates her priorities, cherishing the small moments and treasuring her family. The letters that Emma and Dan had written to each other annually become poignant reminders of their lost love. With each repetition, Emma uncovers the layers of her own resilience, determination, and capacity for change.
Throughout the loops, the story weaves a tapestry of love, loss, and self-discovery, challenging Emma to break free from the cycle and find a way to escape the confines of fate. As she navigates the challenges of being a modern woman, Emma’s journey becomes a powerful exploration of what it means to slow down, appreciate life, and embrace the fleeting moments of happiness.
As a person who has a soft spot for stories that involve the Groundhog Day trope, that alone piqued my interest in this book. However, what I found within Maybe Next Time was a touching and meaningful narrative that left a lasting impact on me.
The story revolves around Emma and Dan, a married couple with two children, who have a unique tradition of writing letters to each other on their yearly dating anniversary. Their lives are busy and filled with various commitments, but amidst the chaos, they try to hold onto the love that brought them together.
However, tragedy strikes one fateful day, leading Emma into a time loop, where she wakes up on the same day, reliving it over and over again. As she navigates through the repeated events, she grapples with the question of what she must get right before she can move on.
At first, I found it challenging to connect with Emma, as her drive to please everyone around her, even at the expense of her own well-being, felt frustrating. It took me a while to warm up to her character, but as the story progressed, I began to empathize with her struggles and the journey she embarks on.
The premise of the book, while not entirely new, was executed in a unique and emotionally moving way. Despite the repetition of the same day, Cesca managed to keep the narrative engaging and compelling, offering subtle variations in each iteration.
And as the story goes, you see Emma go through ups and downs as she tries to come to terms with her situation. It made me think how easy it is to get wrapped up in the stress of work and everyday life and lose sight of what’s important. Although this novel has a lot of magical realism elements, it deals with such real topics. It’s beautiful, poignant, and the pages just pull you in.
The ending of the story was both poignant and bittersweet, catching me off guard with its unexpected twist. I found myself crying, not because of a sudden plot twist, but because the conclusion left me reflect on the significance of appreciating the little moments and the people we hold dear in our lives.
If you appreciate stories that explore the intricacies of marriage, family dynamics, and the complexities of real life, Maybe Next Time is a must-read. It does justice to the time loop trope, offering a heartfelt and introspective journey.
You may not resonate with the repetitiveness of the story due to the time-loop concept. You may find certain parts of the book to be slow or repetitive, especially as Emma relives the same day multiple times. The story can feel dragged at points, and the repetition then becomes monotonous. The Groundhog Day trope, while intriguing, may leave you wanting more variety in the plot and progression.
Likewise, regarding the character of Emma, you may find it hard to connect with her, especially in the early parts of the story. Emma’s overwhelming nature and constant busyness can make it challenging for you to empathize with her. However, as the story progressed and Emma’s character developed, I found myself rooting for her and appreciating her growth.
The ending of the book may also leave you with divided opinions, because it is open to interpretation and it lacks a definitive resolution. It does not leave closure and answers regarding certain plot points, although this ambiguity goes well with the overall tone of the story. more closure and answers regarding certain plot points.
Read it or skip it?
If you enjoy thought-provoking novels that explore the complexities of human relationships, the impact of our choices, and the importance of living in the moment, Maybe Next Time might be a perfect addition to your reading list. The exploration of marriage, family dynamics, and the struggle to balance personal and professional life resonates deeply with readers who appreciate realistic and relatable storytelling.
However, if you are not a fan of stories that involve repetitive plot elements, you might find certain parts of the book slow-paced. Additionally, if you prefer clear-cut resolutions and closure in the endings of the books you read, the ambiguous nature of the conclusion might leave you wanting more.
Overall however, this is a heartfelt and emotionally charged novel that will offer you a chance to reflect on your own choices and priorities, making it a compelling read for those who enjoy deep, introspective narratives.
P.S. For my book club questions for this book, click here!
Happy reading! ❤️