Book Review: London Undone by Nan Higgins

Release Date: Dec 1, 2019
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

This is not an England based book. I feel a bit misled by the cover. London. Water in the background presumed to be the Thames. Building in the background that could be Big Ben if you are squinting? Big black boots that I assume British women wear because of the climate. Not even the blurb mentions the real location: Columbus, Ohio. Ha! What a shock.

First and foremost, I need to say that this book was incredibly heavy. I’m not sure why I didn’t expect that when the description mentioned a failed marriage proposal, a deceased estranged mom, and needing to find oneself. But it didn’t prepare me for the major themes of homophobia and transphobia which were the constant drivers of pretty much every arc in this book.

Higgins writes very well. It is a credit to her that this story made me feel so deeply sad and angry. I only wish that there could have been a little more light among the dark. A better balance would have left me finishing this less confused about my overall thoughts. As it was, bad thing after bad thing continued to happen. It was a lot to take in and process.

I felt the premise was unique in that we started with an established couple. A marriage proposal goes awry despite the fact that they love each other very much. They both need to process how and if they move forward together. This was definitely not a romance. I would say this book is about the difference between chosen vs. biological families.

I loved the diversity of characters. Interracial main couple. Lesbians, gays, trans, etc. The author managed to tackle and celebrate these different types of humans without info dumps or sounding preachy. We learn the struggles through actual experiences and dialogue.. There was a small friend group that surrounded London to show that even when things were going horribly, she wasn’t alone.

The entire journey that London goes through was heartbreaking and yet ultimately uplifting. We had to witness her be put through the wringer emotionally before she was able to learn and grow. But even right up to the very end, I was wondering if that would ever happen.

Speaking of the end, it wrapped up very quickly. But holy heck did it make me cry. A single line about a boy in a revised letter did me in. Then a letter in the epilogue opened the flood gates. The book cover and title really should have had more to do with letters! Not London.

I did love the name ‘London’ for our main character, though.

I recommend this to those who like to read really depressing hard reads that beat you up but make you feel something after reading it. About chosen families, estranged families, relationship issues, being who you are as opposed to what other expect of you, living your life for yourself, volunteering, helping abandoned children, and tree larceny.

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