But Then I Came Back

But Then I Came Back

by Estelle Laure


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544531260
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,306,216
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.15(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshiper who believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in theatre arts, and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her children. www.estellelaure.com

Read an Excerpt


Your mom made tequila-lime pie for dessert. You didn’t have any because dessert always tastes like too much, but you did pilfer the bottle of Patrón Silver she used and sneak it to the river. You needed it because you had to walk down the hill in the middle of the night and your leather jacket wasn’t warm enough for early November, but you were stubborn and stupid and wouldn’t wear a puffer coat because gross. You didn’t wear snow gear, either. Not even your combat boots, idiot. You wore flats. Flats in this weather, Eden. But you also took the tequila because, aside from an awkward exchange at Fred’s Restaurant where Lucille works, you hadn’t talked to her in six weeks and you figured, why not bring a little help for the both of you? Still, you don’t blame the tequila for what’s happening now.
     You blame the Internet. It informed you, on a site it tricked you into, that there was going to be an epic once-in-five-years supermoon and that the universe was demanding you change your ways.
     Move or be moved, it said. It was like a storm watch for the soul. You could practically hear the voice, see the guy standing in front of the monitor in some bad suit, waving his arms about in warning.
     Fatepocalypse is coming in from the southwesterly direction at roughly eighty miles per hour, you imagine him saying in his uptight voice. Citizens should be on the lookout. It’s headed straight for all of us, but I’m especially talking to Eden Jones. Oh boy, oh buddy, this one is coming for you, girl. Safety Department recommends you cease carrying on like a human and stay indoors. Preferably forever.
     If you were naive enough to believe in a universe that communicates with humans (which you are not), one that you might, in fact, be able to have a conversation with (which you cannot), you would demand to know why it speaks in staticky gibberish made up of planets and symbols and expects people to understand it.
     At first you blew off the Internet’s warning because astrology is ridiculous nonsense, but then the whole week was such a suckfest, you began to wonder. It was so bad that you got paranoid about that moon, and ever more pissed off at the Internet, because brains are so powerful, just the fact that you read the warning could have made it true. But when Lucille texted you telling you she needed you, you thought maybe if you went, things would go back to their regularly scheduled pleasant level of suck instead of this extreme. Secretly, even secretly from yourself, you thought you might appease the nonexistent, confusing entity that was having its fun toying with you, by showing up for Lucille after, admittedly, being kind of a bitch to her when she needed you most.
     You never meant to be horrible to her. You have long claimed that the only thing you really hate is mean girls, and you wouldn’t be one on purpose. But ever since Lucille decided your newly philandering, almost engaged twin brother is her soul mate, being around her has gotten really hard to do without violent impulses. Every time Digby moped all over you about her and loving her and Elaine, and his deep, angsty struggles between right and wrong, and what should he do, you wanted to shake Lucille by the shoulder until her head jiggled free of her neck socket.
     Because first of all, if a girl has any ambition, she shouldn’t be a pawn in someone else’s drama, much less be the cause of it. Second, cheating is sordid and cheap. And third, it is a conflict of interest that isn’t actually all that interesting but is all anybody can talk about. At first the entire seamy debacle (because it is a debacle) was something to watch, but after a while, it seemed to you that it was nothing but pathetic.
     So the bad moon rising is how you found yourself on your rock tonight, the flat one at the river’s edge that you used to pretend into a throne when you were little. You still do, because you fancy yourself a queen and the river your queendom. This bend of the river, flanked by rocks and ancient trees and an old train car, is your private place. The willows are all stripped down this time of year, except for the sheen of icicle glass. You like willows best of all the trees, because they know how to bow to a lady, but also because if you cut them deep, they cry.
     Lucille was crying, sitting under them looking like a giant snowball in her winter jacket and hat, and the ice in you was melting as she shifted around, chewing on her lip, her nails, her nail beds, crossing her legs then uncrossing them, moving, always moving, apologizing for her flaws with every twitch.
     Heart-in-her-hand girl.
     You were glad to have come so you could remind yourself all about your mad, passionate love for her, which had hurt so much to try to forget, but you were distracted, too. Your whirlpool mind wouldn’t stop circling the drain, whirring on and on about your stupid, average, small-town New Jersey mediocrity, that your future was now nothing but an endless, murky path. Your third cigarette in a row wasn’t doing any good either. It spilled through your lungs. They ached, and your head, your stomach too, and you knew you should—but you couldn’t—stop chain smoking.
     “I’m really sorry about the ballet thing.” Lucille’s voice glued you to the rock just as you were about to stand, to tell her you were going home. “You should keep on,” she said.
     “I will.” You tried not to think about the lady in New York with the deer bones bending toward you, whispering nightmares about your future low into your ear. “Just now I know it’s not going to do me any good. Denial is for losers.” You said this out loud, because Lucille needed to hear it as much as you did. “Face your crap and move on. Otherwise you’ll get old and depressed and turn into a scary pod person whose most pressing issue in life is when they get to trade in the can of Dr Pepper for the can of Bud. It’s true.” You took one last drag of your smoke. “Look around.”
     Lucille tittered, but that easy-chair reality wasn’t funny. It was entirely possible. Probable, even. People settle down in front of the idiot box and never get up again because it requires too much effort. Sometimes, though you would never speak it, you think it would be a hell of a lot easier to want a simple life. You long for a recliner, and for a dull, compliant mind, instead of the one you got, which is a lot more flailing octopus than floating manatee.
     You crushed your smoke and stood high on your toes. You stretched, reached your arms toward the sky, and asked the moon if it was satisfied now, if you had done enough to turn things around and avoid the storm by being here, by paying respects, by cleaning up your friendship with Lucille.
     That was it . . . the moment it happened.
     Your feet lost their grip like an answer.
     You teetered on ice, tried to steady yourself. It was too fast.
     You wanted to call out to Lucille for help, but before you could, a thud that was your own head. A bright jangle. Pain. You tried to fight. You couldn’t. You were already in the water.
     You waited to go unconscious, but you didn’t. At least, you think you didn’t. Rocks battered your legs, and water slipped into your lungs, heavier than the smoke but just as achy.
     This was a crisis, and you knew it in your flailing octopus brain, but it didn’t touch you. Because you weren’t you anymore. You were nowhere near yourself. Not in any way. You weren’t even human. No, girl. You were the wind whipping at the pages of a book; you were a grass ocean, swaying. You were the willow, weeping, weeping, and you hum-hummed every lullaby all at once, and it was soft and beautiful and infinite.
     And the cradle will fall.
     And down will come—
     Hey, pay attention!
     I’m telling you this so you’ll remember.
     Because you’re weightless now, and you have to remember this so you don’t forget who you are.
     Eden Jones. Eden Austen Jones. Age seventeen. Daughter to John and Jane Jones. Twin sister to Digby Riley Jones. Best friend to Lucille Bennett. You live in Cherryville, New Jersey, in the brand-new subdivision on the top of the hill, in your parents’ dream house. You handpicked the carpet in your room, the paint on your wall. You are a ballerina. You collect quotes from books by people wiser than you, mostly dead. You write down those quotes and repeat them aloud to yourself until they are embossed on your soul. You dream of fame. What’s in a name a rose by any other name would smell as sweet it means nothing nothing and everything and youdon’tcareyoudon’tminditatallnotonebit.
     Which is why you let go.
     It’s so damn sweet to be nothing but a riversong.

Patient name: Eden Jones
Glasgow Coma Scale Test
Eye Opening Response: None (1)
Best Verbal Response: None (1)
Best Motor Response: None (1)
Total score: 3
Prognosis: Poor

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But Then I Came Back 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
Well, this was disappointing. I had a moment at around 50 pages in where I considered giving up on this book and I probably should have followed that instinct because I really didn't enjoy reading this book. I did think that some sections of the book were better than others but I spent most of my reading time wanting to reach the end just so I could move on to something else. This book opens with Eden having an accident that leaves her in a coma. As she comes out of the coma, she has to slowly get back to her life which turns out to be a lot harder than you would imagine. She feels a strong connection to another coma patient on her floor Jaz and eventually forms a bound with Jaz's frequent visitor, Joe. One of the key parts of the book revolved around what Eden experiences while in the coma. I really found that entire section of the book to be more confusing than interesting. I had to go back and read parts of that section several times and was still quite confused. It made sense by the end of the book but I had lost interest by that point. I thought that the parts of the book involving Joe were much better. Joe was my favorite character in the book by a large margin. He was really a good guy. Eden and Joe's relationship was interesting and a bit unusual. Unfortunately, it seemed to take a really long time for the relationship between these two to even get started. I will not be recommending this book to others. I am sure that some people will enjoy it a lot more than I did. I was able to get through the book and would be open to trying other works by Estelle Laure. I received an advance reader copy of this book from HMH Books for Young Readers via NetGalley.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
While I was back and forth on my feelings toward the magical realism contained in “But Then I Came Back,” I had to give it four stars for the beautiful portrayal of what it’s like to come back after a serious head injury. The struggles physically and mentally were portrayed well, but it also covered the existential questions that often come up after a life-changing event. That is something I have rarely seen in a novel. There is also a nice romance on the side. Recommended! This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
BlessedX5 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed This Raging Light, so when I saw that the sequel was coming out I was excited. This book did not disappoint. I was so glad to see that Eden got to have her story told and to see what happened once she woke up. The changes in her were amazing and it was interesting to think about how an accident can change the course of your life. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
A contemplative novel about afterlife and the impact of events in life, the story revolves around Eden, a secondary character from This Raging Light, who towards the end of that novel had an accident and slipped into a coma. Now, in But Then I Came Back, Eden wakes a month later to find out that her world has changed. She hasn't been around for the momentous changes that had wrapped up the previous novel, and in this new life where she is recovering basic human functions like eating and walking again, to find out that she has lost her best friend to her brother feels to her like she isn't even present in her life. Her psyche is definitely affected by the coma, and the recovery, but there has been another change - she can see black flowers all around, and she remembers the time of being In Between, where she had met another comatose girl Jaz(more specifically the girl in the bed next to her) that she forms an instant connection with. Navigating this post-coma life, Eden struggles to figure out what ties her down to her life now. In the In Between, she was free from troubles and worries; living now feels like a burden (but not that she is suicidal). But along with Joe, Jaz's best friend, whom she promises to help to connect with Jaz, and some much-needed therapy, she starts to find reasons to rejoice in life. She starts to pick up the pieces and be optimistic in the face of an uncertain life, because the uncertainty of death has been alleviated some. Eden's character in TRL was not much known, but here she comes across as a focused, prickly in-control girl who came out of her coma a slightly more prickly version of herself. Now, the romance, while a subplot, still drives the plot to quite a degree. Joe is somewhat similar to Digby in that both boys had a previous girl whom they felt strongly attached to, and felt guilty about their new feelings. Also, the hot-cold nature of their interactions were quite similar, as was the almost constant swooning on their respective girl lead's parts. It was, in a word, repetitive. And Lucille is pretty much a minor secondary character in this one, despite being Eden's best friend. Their friendship, which was so intense in TRL, is now a fizzled out firework, and while I felt it was more in response to Eden's after-coma life, I still felt a bit betrayed that their friendship had to change too. Overall, it is an emotional, thought-provoking book and a good read for contemporary lovers.
etoile1996 More than 1 year ago
eden jones doesn't know where she was when she was in a coma. she just knows she wasn't here. she knows she saw her family. she knows that her past was closer to her than ever before. she knows that the other girl in a coma in the hospital ward was there too. and she knows that jasmine is trying to tell her something. but then i came back is about eden's recovery. it's about how trauma changes you. it's about how one thing can change everything about you, except it can't change who you really are. she's experienced something so outside of anyone's realm of understanding. her friends, her family, they are trying, but she can't help but feel closest to jasmine, the girl still in a coma and joe the guy who holds her fate in his hands. the book opens with eden's accident. an out of body experience told in the second person. and then we are in the during, as she comes back and figures out how to start living again. the hardest thing is figuring out her relationship with her twin brother. she's lived through something she can't share with him and in the time she was in a coma he found closeness with eden's best friend lucille. so when she does come back the relationship she shared with the two closest people in her life has irrevocably changed. and so the connection she shares with jasmine, as someone else who has been in the in between place between life and death becomes so important. and the acceptance and understanding she gets from joe lets her feel less crazy and more grounded in the now. something she craves desperately because coming back has left her feeling disconnected, disassociated from herself, from her life. figuring things out with joe, beginning a relationship with joe, opens her back up to feeling, to living. and inasmuch as there is pain and loss and grief and hurt and anger in this story, there is also a great amount of beauty. sometimes everything must break apart before it can be put back together. but when it does come together, it can be stronger and more beautiful than ever. **but then i came back will publish on april 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/houghton mifflin harcourt children's book group (hmh books for young readers) in exchange for my honest review.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
"Time served on planet earth is yours to use as you see fit. It keeps spinning, and just because someone's life ends or pauses doesn't mean we have to do the same." --- "We do have to rescue ourselves in the end, no matter how much we learn to lean on other people." Eden Jones fell in the river and hit her head. She was in a coma for a month. But then she woke up. That's when the real recovery begins as Eden has to teach her body how to walk, talk, and even eat again. All easy compared to trying to fit herself back into a life that moved on without her. Eden struggles to reconnect with her twin brother who used to know her better than anyone, her best friend who saved her, and her parents. But maybe she isn't the person they remember anymore. Maybe she isn't the person she remembers either. Eden still feels a pull to wherever she was while she was in a coma--to the In Between place filled with flowers and a girl trying to tell her something that she can't hear. The flowers follow Eden back into the real world where they start appearing everywhere. It turns out the girl followed Eden back too. Jaz is in the hospital room next to Eden, comatose and unresponsive except that Eden still feels a pull toward her. As she tries to understand their connection, Eden also forms a surprising friendship with Joe--the boy who is desperate for Jaz to wake up. Eden might be the only person who can get Jaz to come back. Helping Jaz could mean losing a piece of herself. Or it could help Eden find something she's been missing all along in But Then I Came Back (2017) by Estelle Laure. But Then I Came Back is a companion to Laure's debut novel This Raging Light. It begins a few weeks after the end of This Raging Light and tells Eden's story. Although she is facing a lot of external change most of Eden's journey and development is internal as she tries to make sense of her interpersonal relationships--both new and old--and figure out who she is now and who she wants to become. For most of her life, Eden has defined herself as a ballet dancer with big plans. That future is thrown into doubt at the start of But Then I Came Back and Eden's return to dance is a compelling addition to this story and as satisfying as her blooming relationship with Joe. Laure channels Eden's frenetic, energetic personality in a first person narration filled with staccato observations as she wakes up in the hospital and begins the arduous process of returning to her old life.The glaring contrast between Eden's current reality and the pieces of her time In Between that begin to bleed into the waking world lend an eerie quality and a sense of urgency to this otherwise quiet story. Eden's voice and her experiences are completely different from Lucille's in This Raging Light but themes of connection and perseverance tie these two characters and their stories together. But Then I Came Back is about loss, recovery, self-discovery, and choice. A powerful story about a girl who has to lose a lot before she can find herself again. Highly recommended. Possible Pairings: Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman, The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu, The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Fracture by Megan Miranda, When We Collided by Emery Lord, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, American Street by Ibi Zoboi *An advance copy of this title was