Cover Image: Her Here

Her Here

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Member Reviews

Elena arrives in Paris to study and accepts an invitation to meet with an old friend of her mother, Siobhan. Ella, Siobhans daughter who was put up for adoption, has been missing for 6 years. Siobhan offers Ella money to put aside her studies and interpret Ella’s life using her journals she kept while in Thailand. She accepts and begins to lose herself in the work. 

This book was a tad hard to get into and the constant switching between journals and narration was at times a little confusing but overall I did enjoy this book somewhat.
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I adored this novel! Literary fiction at its finest! It's layered and complex with atmospheric details and landscapes that ring true. The architecture of the structure of  this book is brilliant. It's not your traditional mystery yet there is a mystery to be solved. If you are like me and find yourself often disappointed by commercial fiction, give Her Here a go. Looking forward to reading more from this dazzling writer.

I'm on a quest to read many novels published spring 2021 and this one is the best of the bunch so far! 😊

Thanks to NG with providing The Writer's Reader with a galley in trade for an honest review.
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Her Here by Amanda Dennis is a novel depicting the life of Elena, a PhD student, as she tries to make sense of her grief and life following her mother death. However Elena soon finds herself abandoning her graduate program to travel to Paris to find a family friend Ella with nothing but old journals to guide her. 

This book was haunting with an ethereal vibe. However I think this etherealness sometimes distanced the reader from Elena, so I did not connect as strongly with Elena as I expected to. The switching perspectives made you feel like you were in a dream-like state, contributing to the atmospheric tone. The author also did a great job of creating a sense of place with the beautiful prose. At the beginning the perspective switching was a bit unclear but as the story progresses you find your rhythm with it. The pacing of this book is slow and leans to a more character-driven style. I do wish there would have been quotations included for the dialogue but this may be more of a stylistic preference for readers. 

Many thanks to the publisher Bellevue Literary Press and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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What does it mean to get inside another so you can find them? This complicated, hypnotic, and literate debut has been described as "a daughter coming to terms with the loss of her mother, and a mother coming to terms with the loss of her daughter."

FIRST LINE: "I have been up all night and now the day is gray, the narrow streets slick and silvered outside the taxi window."

THE STORY: Elena has not come to terms with her mother's death. Arriving in Paris to study, she accepts an invitation to meet with Siobhan, an old friend of her mother. Siobhan's daughter Ella, adopted and raised by a American family, has been missing for 6 years. Although she hadn't seen Ella since she was 3 months old, Ella had sent Siobhan a set of journals kept while she was living in Thailand. Siobhan offers to pay Elena generously to put aside her studies and re-interpret Ella's life using her journals as a way to find her. Elena reluctantly accepts but eventually begins to lose herself in the work.

WHAT I THOUGHT: It's a bit hard to get acclimated with the constant alternating between narrator and journals, but once engaged in the story the author provides subtle signals to guide the reader.

Using the names Elena and Ella is obviously another way to show how intertwined these two lives become, but it often causes the reader's flow to be interrupted while making sure which is which.

The language is beautiful and difficult with many esoteric references. Still the descriptions of Paris and Chiang Rai, Thailand are lovely and enticing.

BOTTOM LINE: If you are fascinated by the thought of reading an "existential detective story," don't hesitate to pick up Her Here. Otherwise it is not for the casual mystery reader.

DISCLAIMER: A copy of was provided to me by Bellevue Literary Press/Net Galley for an honest review.
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Slow-moving and confusing at times, but beautiful descriptions and an interesting plot. Thank you to NetGalley and Bellevue Literary Press for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy
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It took some time to get into this book, which is something I dislike in books. I want to be engaged from the getgo rather than forcing myself to keep going in hopes that it gets better. Nonetheless, once I made it past the opening, I enjoyed this book, both in the plot and Dennis's writing style. I dislike when authors don't use quotation marks and this book was no exception.
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In Her Here, the thoughts, feelings, and personhood between PhD student Elena, and missing distant family friend Ella blur as Elena tries to piece together Ella’s whereabouts using only her old journals. Set in a combination of France and Thailand, author Amanda Dennis transports readers to these locations and introduces us to the colorful members of Ella’s life. As Elena, hired to write the narrative of Ella’s last year or so, digs deeper and deeper into her last known experiences, she succumbs her own personhood to Ella while ultimately learning more about herself.

The written narrative of Ella’s time in Thailand was my favorite part of the book, and I found her and the people she interacted with in Thailand to be relatable and believable characters. While I really loved Her Here overall, I did struggle to understand or be engaged by the first 10-15% of the book due the artistic syntax and more prosaic writing style. I quickly shed these feelings, however, as Ella was introduced and I and learned more about her experience in Thailand. Based on the description, I thought that Elena’s amnesia would be a bigger factor, and by the end of the book I don’t think it was necessary. I think ‘burnt out grad student in a stagnant relationship’ is totally sufficient to explain why Elena left the US to take the job of transforming Ella’s diaries into a story. Elena’s relationship with her own mother and behavior after her passing is also wrapped in quite a bit of prose, so it seems to fade into the background behind Ella’s more enticing story.

There is a lot to enjoy about Her Here, including beautiful descriptiveness and an interesting plot, and I am impressed that this is the author’s first work. I would look forward to reading more by Dennis. 

Note: I received Her Here as a free ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This was very slow moving, and the way the story was written made me confused a few times about what actually happened in Ella's diaries and what Elena was writing. I also didn't like that quotation marks weren't used (and this probably was part of the confusion for me too) and I'm hoping that this will be fixed before publication. The names are also very similar which was confusing a few times.

Kindly received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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