Review: Preloved by Lauren Bravo

 Gwen is coasting through life. She’s in her mid-thirties, perpetually single, her friends are busy procreating in the countryside and conversations with her parents seem to revolve entirely around the council’s wheelie-bin timetable.

And she’s lonely. But then, isn’t everyone?
When she’s made redundant from a job she hardly cares about, she takes herself out for a fancy dinner. There she has the best sticky toffee pudding of her life and realises she has no one to tell. She vows to begin living her life fully, reconnect with her friends and family, and finally book that dentist’s appointment. 
Gwen decides to start where all things get a second chance: her local charity shop. There, with the help of the weird and wonderful people and donated items bursting with untold stories, Gwen will find a way to move forward with bravery, tenacity, and more regular dental care.

Review:This was such an interesting take for a story, especially in the age of sustainability. I love the idea that Gwen is trying to get her life on track by not only giving up her time but working somewhere where people literally give up their possessions to live another life. It feels very meta but it just works in the context of this novel. 

Gwen is a great character because she is a little on the prickly side, some of her thinking is quite rigid and yet she is very easy to identify with and very easy to get behind. I love following her through her renaissance and getting to know her story one little detail at a time. Because the structure of this book is such that we get to learn a little about Gwen and then we get the story of an object that is sent to the shop in which she works. 

I think the structure of the novel was my favourite thing about this book. We have a Gwen chapter followed by an object’s story. We don’t know if this is something Gwen will come into direct contact with or if this is something entirely unrelated to her but it is so interesting to think about each item that comes into a charity shop and the life that object might have had before it found its way there. I was also really blown away by how these object chapters help to feed into the mood or directly into the plot of the next step of Gwen’s journey. 

Parts of this book are very real and there were definitely some emotional moments for me but because it was so real I definitely enjoyed it. Gwen is honest about her feelings, including her sexual and romantic feelings. The aspect of her character I enjoyed most was about how honest she was when it came to ‘getting back to work’ and how this was something she didn’t feel ready for yet, she had a financial plan that would last her as long as it did and in the meantime she was free to focus on herself and her own relationships whether they were family or friends. I loved that she stood up for what she believed in, even if that was saying no to things and it helped make this book what it was-a pleasure to read!

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