Have you ever felt overshadowed by someone close to you? Have you ever wished you were born different – more attractive, smarter, easier to talk to? Now imagine if there was another person in the world who looked exactly like you but they were the better version of you in every single way. That is the story of Adam…
I read so many incredible books each year, but very few stay with me to such an extent that every time they cross my mind, my heart clenches. My Only is one of those rare books that touched me profoundly, permanently, and its beautiful story never really left me. If you’re looking for a truly emotional, beautifully written read, to move you, own you, make you FEEL in shouty capitals, this is the book for you! Today, I have the truly great honour of letting you know that this stellar book has just been re-released with a beautiful new cover, a much more affordable price point, and of sharing with you an excerpt. Please please please, give this book a chance, you will not regret it. ♥
Adam James’s life is far from perfect. A talented drummer from a small suburb of Chicago, he keeps to himself and downplays his abilities. Thinking that he is less than all those around him, Adam lives his life in the shadow of his popular twin brother, Aaron.
When a free-spirited new girl with a troubled past moves in across the street, Adam’s eyes are opened to a new world of possibilities. Olivia Cartwright’s philosophies on life give her a deeper understanding of the world. An instant connection between Adam and Olivia draws them closer, but he wonders why anyone would choose him when a better version exists. His worry grows stronger, especially when Aaron takes an interest in Olivia.
Will the friendship with Olivia change Adam, or will he continue to close himself off in his own world?
Adam has a choice to make: risk his friendship with Olivia or fight for something more.
Adam has a lot to learn about love…and life.
“Something you’re interested in?”
The usual smile was no longer there. Instead, she looked somber—not as intense as when we spoke in the car, but definitely more serious than I’d ever seen her.
Her words took me even more off guard than her appearance. “How’d your mom die, Adam?”
It took me a moment for the question to sink in. I wasn’t used to talking about it. While I suspected Aaron thought about her, quite a lot actually, he never said anything to me. Likewise, it didn’t seem like it would do anything for me to have a conversation with him about it.
I licked my lips and swallowed hard. I wasn’t able to look into Olivia’s eyes because they seemed to bring up too many emotions. I trained my gaze on the blue book with gold lettering across the small aisle. “She died giving birth to me.”
“So you never even met her?”
I shook my head and tried to push back the welling depression that always overtook me when I thought about that very fact. “No. She pushed Aaron out, but they had to cut her to get me out. I don’t know. My dad won’t say much. Just that her blood pressure dropped, and she was gone before she heard me cry.”
Olivia didn’t say anything, which I was happy for. Sometimes people felt obligated to fill the silence after deeply personal things were shared. I liked that she gave me the distance to feel what I was feeling and not have the additional pressure of alleviating the awkwardness.
“Sometimes I think my dad hates me because of it. Aaron, too.”
That was my voice. I’d said those words, but I hadn’t meant to. I hadn’t even known that I wanted to. I looked down at my lap as I pushed a deep breath of air out. I held it in my mouth, ballooning my cheeks as the breath escaped slowly through my lips. The thought I’d just expressed felt heavy, and I wished I’d felt lighter after having released it, but I didn’t.
Olivia sort of leaned into me, nudging me with her shoulder. “They might have complex feelings, but I’m sure they don’t hate you. Of course, I’ve only met your dad once, but I don’t think he could ever hate either of you.”
We were quiet again. She drew her knees up, putting her chin on them. I felt bad for making what should’ve been a fun time into a depressing thing, but she’d brought up the subject. We were sitting in the metaphysical section, surrounded by books on death, dying, and the afterlife, so maybe the conversation was more appropriate than anything else.
“What about you? How did your mom die?” I asked, turning my whole body to face her. I wanted to see her expressions as she revealed more of herself to me just as I had just done for her.
She took a deep breath, and looked me in the eyes. “We were grocery shopping and the store got robbed. It happened really fast, but one of the two guys fired and one of the bullets hit my mom.”
“Oh my God.” It always seemed like I didn’t know what to say to her, but this was different. What was there to say to that? It was horrible, and I couldn’t imagine what she’d gone through at all.
Despite the fact that I liked the silence she gave me after telling her about my mother, I couldn’t give her the same for long. There was so much to know and I felt drawn to learn it all. “You were with her?”
Olivia nodded, her face twisting up into some kind of a mask of pain. Her lips were pressed tightly together and her eyes closed for a moment. When she opened them again, she turned away from me. I thought she might cry, but when I looked at her profile, I saw there were no tears.
“How do you process that?” I sighed when I realized I sounded more like a therapist than I’d wanted to sound.
“I didn’t process it. I accepted it and moved on.”
Her voice was too steady and her words were much different than I expected. “But I don’t—”
“Listen, life’s too short to let sadness overpower you for long periods of time. Like you said, ‘Everyone dies.’ I felt my emotions, cried my tears, and then came to peace about it. You don’t ever ‘get over’ something like that,” she said, adding air quotes. “All you can do is embrace the experience and do your best to go on.”
I struggled to understand. Her mother was dead. So was mine. Her statement about never getting over something like that was incredibly accurate, in my opinion. Yet, her comment about simply embracing the experience was foreign to me. “I don’t know anything about my mom. How do I ‘embrace’ her dying as I took my first breath?”
She turned to me once again. “You know that she loved you enough to die to give you life. And if you want to be poetic about it—you took your first breath, she took her last, and together you breathe every day.”
The words bumped around my mind until I was able to dissect and study them then put them back together. Maybe she was right. Maybe my mom gave me my breath. Maybe she lived through me now.
Olivia had a way of making everything seem better.
✤ ✤ ✤