Fiction

When We Were Young by Richard Roper

Thank you to Virginia Woolstencroft and Orion Books for an early proof of this amazing book which publishes today. It was an absolute pleasure to read and I enjoyed it just as much as the author’s previous book Something to Live For. I’m so excited to share my review with you here and if you do read it, I would love to know what you thought.

About the book

Theo has been living in his parents’ shed, nursing a broken heart and a wounded ego, convinced life can’t get any worse. Then he gets evicted on his 30th birthday. Theo thinks he’s done with the real world – until it shows up on his doorstep…

Joel is a successful TV scriptwriter, still in love with his teenage sweetheart. A proper grown-up – and yet he’s falling apart at the seams. He’s headed home to reconnect with best friend Theo – except they haven’t spoken since the summer they turned 16.

One of them is keeping a secret, and the other is living a lie. But can the promise they once made to walk all 184 miles of the Thames Path help them find their way back to the truth – and to their friendship?

A tender and funny story about wanting to go back – when you know it’s time to move on.

What I thought

I really didn’t think it would be possible to write a second book and actually beat Something to Live For in bringing sheer joy to reading a story which really is quite sad.

I read the author’s previous book back in 2019 when it was published and chose it for my Top Book Shelf Picks of 2019 from the Contemporary fiction/humour shelf. I loved that book and so was really excited to have the opportunity to read this one ahead of publication.

When We Were Young is a heart-warming story of two friends Theo and Joel, now both 30 they were at one time the very best of friends.  It’s a story of friendship, loyalty and growing up.  We’re first introduced to Theo in the present, living at the bottom of his parents’ garden in the garden shed.  He’s lost the love of his life, he’s lost his job and lost his way in life.

One day there’s a knock at the door and Theo’s once very best friend is standing there – the last person Theo wants to see. After all, he thought he made it quite clear to Joel all those years ago that they were finished and he never wanted to see him again.

When they were young, they made a pact that one day they would walk the Thames Path together.  Joel wants to know, despite their past fall outs, whether this would now be possible and with nothing better to do in the immediate future and with a promise of better things to come, Theo reluctantly agrees.

In alternating chapters told from both Theo and Joel’s point of view we’re taken on a journey of memories back to when they were still at school.  How they met and became friends, the trials and tribulations of their friendship, the secrets, some of which are still kept hidden, the hurts, the good times, the dreams for their future.  We see the bad things that happened to them and how past hurts and wrongdoing has had far reaching consequences on both their lives.

I didn’t think there was quite so much humour in this second book, it was more of a dry humour that would tend to raise a whimsical smile rather than a laugh out loud, though I must admit to emitting a few chuckles now and again. That’s not to be seen as a negative though, there are some serious matters covered in this story and to attempt to treat them lightly would be wrong.  

Nevertheless what an absolutely marvellous story this is, beautifully and sensitively written I loved every single page right to its brilliant ending.  I really do miss these two wonderful characters now that I’ve finished the book and look forward very much to what Richard Roper comes up with next.

♥ Happy Reading ♥

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks again to Orion Books for an advance proof copy of the book.

The book publishes today 22 July in e-book format and Hardback available from all book retailers as well as Amazon

2 thoughts on “When We Were Young by Richard Roper

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