Author: Charlee Fam
Genre: Fiction / Literature
My Copy: ARC courtesy of William Morrow
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Who put the word fun in funeral? I can’t think of anything fun about Rachel’s funeral, except for the fact that she won’t be there.
Aubrey Glass has a collection of potential suicide notes—just in case. And now, five years—and five notes—after leaving her hometown, Rachel’s the one who goes and kills herself. Aubrey can’t believe her luck.
But Rachel’s death doesn’t leave Aubrey in peace. There’s a voicemail from her former friend, left only days before her death that Aubrey can’t bring herself to listen to—and worse, a macabre memorial-turned-high-school reunion that promises the opportunity to catch up with everyone… including the man responsible for everything that went wrong between she and Rachel.
In the days leading up to the funeral and infamous after party, Aubrey slips seamlessly between her past and present. Memories of friendship tangle with painful new encounters while underneath it all Aubrey feels the rush of something closing in, something she can no longer run from. And when the past and present collide in one devastating night, nothing will be the same again.
But facing the future means confronting herself and a shattering truth. Now, Aubrey must decide what will define her: what lies behind… or what waits ahead.
I’m always a bit unsure about books where suicide is part of the plot because it can be a wonderful read or just an emotional drain where you can’t get out of an emotional funk. I really enjoyed Charlee Fam’s Last Train to Babylon and am really glad I was able to participate in the blog tour.
We have good character development. Our main character is Aubrey Glass and she’s your typical adult, fresh out of university, and is struggling with everyday life. She reluctantly goes home where she has to come face to face with her teenage past. We have several secondary characters that play a vital role including Rachel, Aubrey’s childhood best friend. While we don’t get to spend much time with Rachel in terms of the present, she’s highly visible and sadly unforgettable. I struggled with Rachel and tried to be sympathetic regarding her home life, but sadly I just couldn’t stand her. She’s a bully and I just couldn’t understand why Aubrey was her friend. Then we have Adam, Aubrey’s high school boyfriend and he plays a central figure due to a variety of reasons. I won’t go into detail because it would be a spoiler, but let’s just say, I liked Adam and felt terribly sorry for his family history.
Narrative is first person via Aubrey and honestly I can’t see Last Train told any differently. We get alternating timeline narratives with the majority of Last Train told in the present. Even the chapters set in the past have a present tense feel to them and it is as if Aubrey herself is reminiscing. I really liked the way Fam utilized this because it made the narrative real and it was easy to picture and feel what Aubrey was experiencing. I also enjoyed Fam’s rich descriptions and just overall really liked her writing. It’s also important to note that Fam’s Last Train deals with some serious issues in addition to suicide such as alcoholism and rape. While elements of the novel feel as if a teenager might enjoy this, I do believe an older teen might be better suited to read this rather a younger teenager. With regards to the issues discussed in Last Train, they are dark and might make you uncomfortable as a reader. There were several times I had to put Last Train aside and just go out and have a moment to myself. I’m not going to lie, I had difficulty letting go of the characters because I really wanted to spend more time with Aubrey and Adam. I wanted answers to certain events, but like in real life we don’t get them. While I’m not satisfied with how nicely things get wrapped in the end, I like to think that Aubrey and Adam really did make peace with the past.
What I really enjoyed about Fam’s Last Train is that it made me think. Often times when people die, we get to truly know a person and secrets come out. I liked how Fam shows us who Rachel really was and how it affected Aubrey and everyone around her. It’s also important to note that I was surprised that no one else had anything bad to say about Rachel. It did make me pause for a moment and decide if I trusted Aubrey’s narrative because we are getting Aubrey’s side of things. In the end, I don’t think it matters that we’re left to trust Aubrey because we find out what happens to Aubrey. It’s what she does to cope that really makes you think of how many women do the same and it’s heartbreaking.
Overall, Last Train to Babylon is an engrossing debut. I can’t wait to read of more of Charlee Fam’s future work. Keep Fam on your watch list because she’s going to be big one day.
(click on the banner for the full tour scheduled organized by Tasty Book Tours)
William Morrow is hosting a tour wide giveaway for 3 signed copies Last Train to Babylon. Good luck!
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