When Rex calls after years of being incommunicado, his best friend Grant is hesitant to accept his invitation. Just like the old days, Rex knows the buttons to push. He has invited Annie, the woman Grant thought he was going to marry…
Former friends and lost loves reconnect on a long, playful and soul searching weekend in Palm Springs. Each discovering they hold hopes long forgotten, each hold fears that the best times of their lives may have already passed by. The mending of emotional fences take them further than they thought possible. Rekindled feelings and new awakenings show them some paths not previously considered. After all these years, all these lives, all this time, is it possible that the best of their lives is yet to come?
I received this digital copy of Edward Cozza’s debut novel through NetGalley at the end of last year, after requesting it based on a desire to read something a little different to the thriller/fantasy books I had been buried in at the time – Nowhere Yet looked as though it would be a quiet, relaxing and gentle read, full of fun and philosophy and ‘real life’ – a kind of ‘anti-escapist’ book, lacking the science and monsters and magic and crimes of my usual literary choices.
As the first book in an intended trilogy I expected the characters to be strong, well thought out, relate-able and able to hold their own outside of this particular plot and setting, and was pleased to find Cozza did not disappoint. Grant is the stereotypical middle-aged ‘Mr Average’, plodding through life with no great up or downs, no significant other, no children, and a bundle of niggling regrets that his past flings and frolics offered ‘chances’ that he let go of, chances that he’ll never again be offered. His best friend Rex could also be known as ‘Mr Suave’, a bigger risk taker than Grant, more confident, extroverted, brash and careless – and also resolutely single with no real direction or life plan outside of having fun, drinking, smoking and socializing. Prior to the story beginning, Rex and Grant’s friendship has recently suffered a break whilst Rex has been AWOL/on the run after some ‘dodgy business’ at his work, and is only reconciled when Rex rings Grant up out of the blue after hearing Grant has been in a car accident and suggests a ‘recuperation break’ at a Palm Springs hotel; a chance for them to put the past behind them and rekindle their friendship. Grant begins to suspect Rex has more on his mind when he discovers that Annie, an old flame of his whom he never really got over, has also been invited, but reluctantly agrees to go and suffer the reunion as a way of mixing up his rather boring, lonely and humdrum life.
Upon arriving at the hotel, Rex and Grant discuss the past, the present, and their ideals for the future, both in terms of what they had hoped for and what has actually happened. Annie brings with her a friend, Kat, and Rex and Grant soon make close acquaintances with the barmaid Elizabeth, resulting in a very odd but unavoidable group dynamic, which, as time goes on, we see adapting and changing in terms of familiarity, friendship, power and jealousy. Grant finds himself intrigued and more than a little attracted to Elizabeth, a mysterious girl unlike anybody he’s ever known, and yet still holds a torch for Annie, whom he sees to be as sweet natured and alluring as when they were together. If I could inject any criticism in the line up of characters, it would be a very minor gripe at Elizabeth – I found her almost too nice and generous, to the point of being unrealistic, when she ‘adopts’ the group of visitors and introduces them to her friends and arranges dinners and parties at her regular haunts. She is also described many times as ‘magical’ or unusual’ by her fellow peers, all of whom seem to love her as a daughter – this fierce and repetitive description of her character is at times a little unnecessary, and does come across as insincere and annoying in the context of the wider plot. I feel that she could have been written as a rival to Annie without being as overtly conspicuous or brazen. However, in spite of a slight over-emphasis of her character, she remains a like-able and integral part of the story, forcing Grant to think about what he truly wants from life, whether the past is always seen through rose tinted glasses, and to appreciate the beauty of the moment without always regretting what could be or isn’t happening.
All the characters in Nowhere Yet face difficulty, indecision, and guilt, and as a result the book is an extremely thought provoking and absorbing read. Nothing much happens in term of action, except a lot of eating, drinking, walking, swimming and thinking – the major draw of this book being the dialogue and introspection of the characters themselves. Kat was perhaps my favourite character, although she doesn’t get half as much ‘page time’ as the others she is witty, clever, not afraid to play Rex at his own games, and incredibly observant about the dynamics shifting around her. Reading how the characters interact with each other tells the parts of the story that Grant, as narrator, doesn’t explicitly say, so as the reader I felt both inside and outside of their circle – a difficult position to create in literature, in this case cleverly and excellently executed by Cozza.
Overall, Nowhere Yet is an easy read and a pleasant way to spend a few hours, and although not one of the most exciting, thrilling, or moving books I’ve ever read, I did enjoy it, mainly due to the clever conversation and beautifully tangled web of connections between the main protagonists – it’s the kind of book you can derive an almost voyeuristic pleasure from, noseying into other peoples lives and business and dirty laundry. It’s funny, relaxing, interesting, beautifully written and genuine, touching on topics involving love, heartbreak, friendship, regret, fear, excitement, confusion and guilt. It probably won’t be a book I’d read again, as I felt the main attraction of the story was seeing it unfold; similarly I probably wouldn’t add to any favourites lists as it simply wasn’t as exciting a read as some choices from my preferred genres – but that is a purely personal opinion, and as such I would definitely still recommend it for a holiday read, or for fans of ‘chick lit’ and related genres, or for when you want something simple, pleasing, interesting and reassuring to curl up with before bed.
Nowhere Yet was published in November 2012 by Legacy Line Publishing and is currently available to buy/download via a number of consumer websites and well known high street bookstores.
Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the authors publicity team, working through NetGalley, in exchange for a fair review. I did not receive any payment for this post, nor I am affiliated with the author or any sales of this book.