Book Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

So each generation set out to find more of its kind, and within just a few cycles of birth and death, the Club had spread not only through space, but also time, propagating itself forwards into the twentieth century and back into the Middle Ages, the death of each member spreading the word of what it was to the very extremes of the times in which they lived.

I have a problem where I’m addicted to books. I use Goodreads to help find new reads and order them in mass quantities from the library – they usually show up in clumps of ten, making me look a little crazy to my former coworkers. Sometimes when I pick up my large piles, I also accidentally browse and end up leaving with twice as many books as I had initially intended. This exact situation took place at the library last week – and I ended up finding “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North on the “Don’t miss this!” shelf.

I’m a total sucker for a good time travel plot, and the thought of living life and being reborn with your memories intact over and over again just absolutely titillates my imagination. Though I already had my reading plan mapped out for the next few weeks, I picked up “Harry August” (and several other books, smh) and immediately started reading it when I got home.

I wasn’t disappointed. The author does a fabulous job of telling us about Harry’s life 15 different times and she does so in a way that doesn’t become boring, and in a way that keeps you interested. Harry’s lifespan ranges from the 1920s to the 1990s, and the author never failed to make his course unique in each life. Since he lives through the same scenarios multiple times, Harry has opportunities to connect with the people and the world around him in ways that which we will never be able to do.

I’ll be real with you – I skimmed a few sections. I’m not particularly interested in war or 20th century technological development, but I really don’t think anyone could live through the same time period 15 times and not be bored with some bits. I don’t want to give away any of the plot, but I loved the recurring characters and the way that Harry dealt with the challenges that he faced.

All in all this was a fabulous read. I was initially a little sad to get off track with my reading plan, but I am so glad that I read this book. I had to go back and read the ending a second time because I really felt it, and I’ll be wondering forever how things went after life number 15.

“This thing you carry inside you, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where you got it. But Harry, the past is the past. You are alive today. That is all that matters. You must remember, because it is who you are, but as it is who you are, you must never, ever regret. To regret your past is to regret your soul.”

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