I picked up this book simply because I liked the cover. Then when I read the inside flap, I thought, "Hey, this sounds like the plot of Just Like Heaven." Der.
I gotta say, this is one of the very few times that I have ever liked a movie better than the book on which it is based. What a disappointment. The writing is too sweet, too moralizing. It reminds me of, dare I say it? Nicholas Sparks. *shudder*
If you don't already know, the story is about Lauren, a medical intern who is in a car accident and is left in a coma. Several months later, architect Arthur moves into Lauren's apartment only to find he's not alone. Lauren's spirit or "ghost" is visible only to Arthur, and the two try to find a way to help Lauren's body and mind wake before her mother decides to pull her from life support. Unlike the movie, the novel's subplot shows Arthur finally dealing with his mother's death when he was about 12. Of course, this all happens at the end of the book, and by this time, I couldn't care less.
I really wanted to like this book, but forced dialogue, flat characters, and too-familiar lines kept me cringing. For instance, the once boyfriend of Arthur's mother says to Arthur, "Do you want to know the real reason your mom left without saying goodbye? She was a great lady, and all great ladies know how to leave in dignity..." Sound familiar? It should, if you're any kind of chick flick fan. Sipsey, in Fried Green Tomatoes, tells Idgy, "It's all right, honey. Let her go. You know, Miss Ruth was a lady. And a lady always knows when to leave."
If Only It Were True was Marc Levy's first novel, originally written in French. Wikipedia assures me that the translation is clumsy and, if read in its correct form, the book flows a lot better. Well, I'm not reading the French version. Mainly because I don't speak French.
I give this book 2.5 stars, and only that much because it led to a pretty good movie where I get to see Mark Ruffalo wearing only a towel.