Book Review: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

Did you ever think to yourself what heaven might be like? Or if it even exists at all? Charlie Laidlaw might have the answer for you.

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead* by Charlie Laidlaw focuses on Lorna Love, a law student who steps into the path of an oncoming car on her way home from a dinner party. Lorna wakes up in what she first thinks is a hospital but soon transpires to be Heaven, or HVN, the name of the spaceship. Lorna meets God who tells her she is there for a purpose, but won’t divulge what that purpose is. Soon Lorna’s memories start to come back and all is revealed.

Despite what the blurb may indicate, this is not a book about spirituality. Again, despite the blurb, and also despite the cover, this is not a sci-fi book. How the author described the book to me was as follows:

Essentially, it’s a modern reworking for an adult readership of The Wizard of Oz – how a young woman in an accident looks back at her life and loves.  Not that readers have to make that connection. It’s a modern fairy tale, told with good humour.

I am very much inclined to agree!

The first few chapters of The Things We Learn When We Are Dead reminded me of The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. However, as I continued, I realised it was so much more. For me, The Five People was a bit too preachy and the advice provided didn’t resonate with me. I also wasn’t a fan of the characters. Most importantly though, this book had more of a story. We had the story of HVN and the exploration of what it exactly is, but also Lorna’s backstory and the reasons why she found herself to be in her current situation. I can’t say that the book offered wise words that will stay with me for my entire life but it was a nice reminder that a bit of perspective can always change things and that sometimes we need to shock ourselves into living life again.

The story can be pretty heavy in parts and the author has a fantastic way of reaching out to the reader’s emotions. I felt sympathetic towards Lorna from the very start and this led to a desire to know her backstory and indeed, her outcome. Another thing that can be said about this book is that it has a very unique story. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Heaven imaged the way that Laidlaw does. Although, I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the HVN parts. Not because they were bad but because I enjoyed Lorna’s story so much the HVN aspect of the book was overshadowed for me.

Overall, I give The Things We Know When We Are Dead a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It can be hard to come by such a unique and well-written book but this one certainly fits the bill.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.The Things We Learn When We're Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

*affiliate link


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