Bron McIntyre is an art teacher who has a favorite bench where she sketches her favorite bridge in the city centre of Melbourne. It’s her happy place where she goes to relax after a long day of teaching children. On this particular day her face settles on a beautiful woman and she begins sketching her almost as if her hands are moving of their own accord. She notices a cyclist heading straight for the woman and leaps to her rescue. She arrives just in time for the cyclist to fly past the woman, causing her smoothie to explode all over her skirt and shoes. Bron offers Kate tissues and they chat on Bron’s bench.
After weeks of meeting and chatting the bench becomes “their” bench. A friendship forms. And although Bron is crushing hard, she knows that Kate’s straight since her divorce from Neil has just been finalized. Maybe not so straight after all, because there’s flirting and then a moment that changes everything. Kate finally has someone who doesn’t belittle her, but instead, lifts her up and loves her exactly as she is. And Bron, who though she was perfectly content having a great job and a wonderful family, acknowledges that she has found her missing piece.
Bron’s family plays a huge part in the book and they are all wonderful. From her foul mouthed, full of love sister Siobhan, to her wise, therapist sister Janine, to fluid pronoun JJ. They are all a window into Bron and I couldn’t possibly love them more. Kate doesn’t have a supportive family. Her mother thinks Neil was her one shot at happiness and she is a fool to throw that away. She cares more about appearances than Kate’s happiness and Neil is just the worst, who, I spent way too much time cursing at, but not apologizing, like Bron’s does when she curses.
KJ is one of the writers whose words speak directly to my heart. Whether it’s the sweetness of Sam and Abby in Coming Home, the magic of Cath and Rica in Art of Magic or the mystery of Felicity and Tal in Ignis, KJ’s artistry is unmatched. With The Forever and the Now, she has written a story unlike anything I have read before, and it is her most beautiful book to date.
If you put a book in front of me and told me to tell you who the author is without looking, I could immediately tell you when it’s a KJ book. It’s the way her “voice” comes through so beautifully, It’s in the way she writes self-deprecating humour and the way she uses imagery so vividly that I can picture each scene as if I am living in the world she’s describing.
This book is written in first person from Bron’s perspective as she and Kate fall in love, make mistakes that threaten that love, fight to find their way back to each other and ultimately experience tragedy. KJ has made it known that this isn’t a happily ever after. When I got to the end on this book I was reduced to a quivering mess of tears. Even thinking back to it, my eyes are tearing up. However, I can’t bring myself to regret the experience and I am certain that Kate and Bron would feel the same. Life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. It is about finding someone who makes you laugh, who holds you when you need to be held and who looks into your eyes and sees your soul. This is a love story that I know years from now I will still be reaching for, wishing I could experience it for the first time all over again.
ARC received from the author for an honest review.