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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Twelve Lifetimes by Claire Merchant is a clever, compelling YA novel about reincarnation and a chance at finding true happiness. Yes, the main character Elizabeth Cambridge has lived eleven times before, and although there are differences in each life (her fourth life as a would-be nun with Adriano is my personal favorite), they always turn out with the same heartbreaking ending. She's lost family, friends, and love. Again and again. Anyone living her lives would need serious help, and she does talk to a therapist, which is the catalyst for the story in a way, but will this be enough to change the bad outcome into a good outcome?
Merchant has created an original, gripping novel for young adult readers--easy to enjoy, hard to forget. The premise is interesting and gets off to a quick start, inviting the reader to empathize with Elizabeth and wonder how you would feel and what you would do if you were doomed to live the same heartaches over and over. The author's style of writing is magnetic and angsty, with poetic phrasing and textural descriptions. Even with a potentially depressing scenario, you don't feel depressed while reading; you feel hopeful and earnest, rooting for Elizabeth to find her way out of the life and death cycle she finds herself in. A good book can often help readers examine their lives, choices, mistakes, sadness, good times, and joys. This book has many good messages that can inspire as well as entertain. It can help readers realize that they too can search inside for answers, look toward help if needed, and find happiness within themselves. You'll find some sadness in this story--imagine losing the love of your life so many times--but it all pays off in a very good way in the end. Twelve Lifetimes by Claire Merchant is a thought-provoking YA novel everyone should read.