Sarah Everett’s Everyone We’ve Been has been described by others as 500 Days of Summer meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I feel like that’s fairly accurate.
If you read the dust jacket, you know four things going into the story:
- Addison loves a boy named Zach.
- Addison has been in an accident.
- Addison is experiencing hallucinations.
- Addison discovers she visited Overton Clinic to erase Zach, but she doesn’t remember it.
Knowing all of this & how the book has been advertised, the mystery here is not what’s happened to Addison; it’s why she had it done and whether it was the best choice or not.
The story switches back and forth from pre-accident to post-accident. The pre-accident story is a sweet one of first love unfolding over the course of a summer. It’s light and fun, and would make a pleasant enough rom-com by itself, but it can’t escape the cloud of dread and foreboding created by the knowledge that Addison would one day want to forget all of it.
The post-accident story is a mystery. Why is Addison hallucinating? What happened to Zach? Why did she feel like erasing their relationship was the solution? How much do her friends and family know?
There’s less intrigue than I would have liked in a story involving memory erasure, but Everyone We’ve Been does pose some interesting questions about how life experiences shape us, even without our realizing it, and the hidden costs of living without pain for both those being protected and those doing the protecting.
While it’s not my favorite book ever, Sarah Everett creates realistic characters and accurately captures the joy and angst of young love and heartbreak. If you like contemporary fiction or are looking for something a little thought-provoking and introspective, Everyone We’ve Been might be worth checking out.