One of the grand illusions of great writing is the appearance of effortlessness, a quality that Abbigail Rosewood often achieves in her debut novel, If I Had Two Lives. Rosewood writes with humility, but without apology .... With precision and dexterity, Rosewood has woven together a tale of staggering artistry, devastation, compassion, and social awareness ... With such a weighty lineup, one might expect an exhausting and sometimes unbearably heavy read. However, quite the contrary, Rosewood’s work is imbued with a touch of lightness that gives readers a sensation more akin to gliding through a shared dream than reading a text ... If I Had Two Lives is a work of radiance, and part of the excitement of the book’s release is the introduction of an author who surely has a long and successful career ahead of her.
At no point does Rosewood lose site of the migrant. She is conscious of an exact suffering; the absent contours in their motion—depicting the remoteness of anyone in transit. Because something is intrinsically lost. And someone is always left behind.
In this debut novel, Rosewood presents with searing clarity the uncertain and confusing world of a child with no one to guide her, followed by the equally confounding scenarios that confront her as a young woman, when she falls for Lilah, a woman whose motives for friendship stem from her own desires ... A poignant tale of loneliness and love.
It does seem that this novel is an exploration of both memory and what might have been, that at times can be quite terrifying. If I Had Two Lives is a lyrical, exquisitely written novel that delves into ugliness in the most beautiful way.
... an exploration of the way people co-opt others for their own ends, and it’s satisfying when the narrator finally gains clarity on the way her life has been warped to reinforce fantasies, both her own and other people's. But the story is filled with clumsy melodrama, with the prose trending a deep, bewildering purple ... An intriguing premise marred by awkward pacing and an overwrought style.