You only get one chance at a first impression…or so we’ve been told. But how many chances are we allotted for major course corrections? In Five First Chances, Sarah Jost takes readers on a journey of what-ifs, romance, time travel, friendship, and self-discovery—quite the undertaking for a debut author. Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for supplying me with an ARC copy to review.

Our protagonist, Lou, kicks off the story with a profound moment of honesty that helps her acknowledge that somewhere along the way, she really screwed up her chance at happiness. Even better (or worse, depending on how one chooses to look at it), she may even know exactly which of her decisions marked the beginning of her life’s downhill slump. I’ll admit, this approach came across as a slower, wordier start than I would have preferred. Self-awareness is important—don’t get me wrong—and definitely something that fiction writers ought to consider in terms of character development and making said characters more relatable even as they confront unrealistic situations and hurdles. That being said, a little often goes a long way, and let us not forget the trusty adage show, don’t tell. To this reader, Five First Chances began with a rather lengthy conversation that we revisit every time Lou uses up another chance to get herself back on track.

The plot does pick up the pace when readers find themselves jerked back in time alongside Lou. It seems the universe sees fit to give her another shot (or maybe a few more) at love, friendship, and true happiness. But, as the title suggests, more than one take is needed for her to see what’s been right in front of her the whole time. This, I feel, is one of the most relatable aspects of Lou’s character and her misadventures. After all, who’s lucky enough to get anything as important as the rest of one’s life right the first go-round? What might make or break certain readers’ perception, though, is that it’s not just one day on repeat five times. Lou is allowed to live two specific years again and again without being fully aware that that’s what’s going on. It makes for a complex ride and provides plenty of chances to see the story from multiple angles, but some may crack this title open anticipating something more along the lines of Groundhog Day, where one day is the main focal point. Interested readers: think less Bill Murray and more Sandra Bullock (criss-crossed timelines and romantic drama of The Lake House, anyone?).

For those looking for a more whimsical and obviously fictional version of the journey of self-discovery in Eat, Pray, Love or who live to reread (see what I did there?) The Time Traveler’s Wife, Five First Chances may be just the title to add to your TBR list.

Published by kwatkins

Writer, editor, reader, steering wheel singer, Dressember advocate, animal lover. She/her. Twitter and Instagram: @thekwatkins. #kwatkins #writelikeaboss

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