Dia, Jules and Hanna, the three members of the band Fairground, may have been high school students when their music was getting noticed, but Hanna’s addiction and Dia’s unplanned pregnancy broke up the act along with their friendship. When a big music contest announces a $15,000 prize for the winning act, they consider reuniting in order to enter. Hanna’s sober now, but a return to the scene could be triggering. Dia is haunted by ghosts of what could have been with her child’s dad. And Jules might be in love with a near-perfect girl, but she’s distracted by her overblown expectations.
Author Rebecca Barrow (You Don’t Know Me but I Know You) uses the contest’s tight timeline to force her characters to reckon with the past, which unfolds in flashbacks. Each young woman has her own issues at home, work and school, and the future and its uncertainty hang over each of them. It’s a pleasure to follow them as they navigate the old hurts and grudges and try to make a new start together.
This Is What It Feels Like is a punched-up power chord of a book. Readers will be reminded that it’s possible for friends to grow apart, find their way back together and be stronger than before.