The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons

4/5 stars

Relationships can suck the life out of you if you aren’t careful, as Amy Bonnaffons’ debut novel The Regrets explores–it’s a story of romantic entanglement and a literal haunting, a bit like if Sally Rooney wrote a ghost story.

We start with Thomas, who has died in a car crash but has met a bureaucratic stopgap that prevents him from dying right away, leaving him to wander Brooklyn for a few months while administrative errors are worked out, and he experiences one of the deepest human desires–getting to see how other people would react if you were gone. He has a strict rulebook in place for his limited time left on Earth, lest he incur ‘regrets’. The biggest one is not forming relationships with other, more-alive people. He mourns his friend and longtime crush Therese who died in the car with him, but got a peaceful transition to the afterlife that he isn’t getting.

Enter Rachel, drifting a bit since library school, who finds herself entranced with Thomas even if his origins seem a little mysterious. This is a simple story tracking the ups and downs of their relationship, along with the efforts of Mark, Rachel’s ex from college feeling his way around unexpected singledom. This is a casual book, tracking the experiences of normal people (well, as normal as a not-quite-dead, disappearing ghost boy can be). The Brooklyn setting is used well, with some only-in-New-York quirkiness. At a tight 300 pages, this is a great quick read. While not every plot point gets wrapped up neatly, I really enjoyed this one–a story that explores the important lessons that all relationships, romantic or not, can teach you.

If you’re okay with a book where not too much happens but you read some very poetic descriptions, this is a prime October pick–I encourage you to check this one out.

THE REGRETS on Amazon:

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