Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Book Review: "The Rachel Incident" by Caroline O'Donoghue

I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out last year, and I’m so glad I finally did. What a great book!

Rachel is a university student in Cork city who takes a job at a bookstore. It is there she meets James, who is effortlessly funny and always good for a laugh or even a shoulder to cry on. It’s not long before they become inseparable best friends, moving in together and helping each other through the everyday angst in their lives.

When Rachel develops a crush on Fred Byrne, one of her professors, it is James who comes up with a scheme by which she can seduce him. But things don’t work out the way they planned, and events are set into motion that have a ripple effect on all of their lives, as well as the life of Deenie, Fred’s wife.

The Rachel Incident mostly takes place in the late 2000s and early 2010s, as Ireland deals with the recession as well as the fight for abortion rights. At times it flashes forward to the present, with Rachel’s narration giving some clues to the future, but leaving most of it for you to unfold.

There’s nothing quite like the angst and stress of your early 20s, navigating love, sex, relationships, career plans, and family. This book so accurately captures those emotions, the drunken nights, the arguments over nothing, the fear you’ll be left behind by life and love. It’s so beautifully written, and though it is more of a slow-burn, character-driven novel, I felt very invested in the story.

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