April 19, 2024

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Five Star ARC Review: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson

John Lennon wrote a brilliant song called Nobody Told Me (There’d Be Days Like These). In The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried, Dino is having one of those days, along with his best… ex-best…dead… ex-dead, let’s just say it is complicated, not dead friend July. How complicated? I submit a conversation Dino finds himself in with a random Wal-Mart employee in the middle of the night as Exhibit A:

“My best friend died-ex best friend…”
“Damn. I’m so sorry”.
I brush her sympathy off. “It’s fine. She came back to life, which you’d think would be cool, but we’ve been fighting all night. And then some guy got run over, but he didn’t die- and why not? Apparently, no one’s dying- and I only wanted to talk about it and figure things out, but she’s selfish and stubborn and abandoned me to teach me a lesson.
“The dead best friend?”
“Ex.”… “The whole situation is ridiculous. I’m not the one who needs the lesson; she is. This is her fault. Leave it to July to ruin dying, and not just for herself; for everyone. I’d go home, leave her to sort out this mess herself, but, oh yeah, she stole my car.”

Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for an ARC in Exchange for an honest review.

Released on Tuesday, February 19th, The Past and Other Things that Should Remain Buried, sees Shaun David Hutchinson guiding us through a contemporary story, with a sci-fi twist. Two best friends have a fallen out when one dies unexpectedly before they can reconcile their relationship. Exhibit A is just one of the gamut of emotions Hutchinson weaves throughout this story of friendships, regret, misunderstandings and whether some friendships are supposed to last forever or just a moment in time that seems like forever. It isn’t an easy road that Hutchinson paves for Dino and July with only laugh-out-loud absurdity.

Throughout their journey there is sadness, anger, denial, mistaken memory, fear, regret, acceptance and ultimately forgiveness. As you venture on the journey with them, you will root for Dino and July’s friendship and even that will break your heart at times because even in forgiveness, the question will remain; are all friendships meant to last forever, or do some last in moments of our lives that just feel like forever?

<July> said it out of instinct, but the more I think about it, the truer it feels. “Look at us. Instead of appreciating the miracle of my resurrection or going on a grand adventure to track down the truth of my return, I caused a car accident; I stole your car, was recognized, and nearly got you arrested; I lied to and farted decomposition gasses on your friends; I gave you advice that you somehow interpreted to mean you should break up with your boyfriend; and we’ve been fighting nonstop.”

That isn’t a spoiler. I won’t tell you how it ends. Nor will I spoil the details of the wedding, life (and death) decisions they help each other through, another whole group of friends, Dino’s boyfriend, an understudy in a play, family drama, a supernatural world-wide occurrence, and beautiful jokes at the expense of someone who just declared a national emergency over a wall when really, he is the national emergency.

I will end with this important note. The most vital impact any type of art can have is the ability to touch your life. There were times I found myself in tears while reading it and times I found myself in reflection during other parts of my day because of it. Not just because of the story itself or the characters. But because of how it made me reflect on my past relationships (all kinds, not just friendships).

I contemplated on where I may have misunderstood, made my own mistakes, could have forgiven more, hashed things out more instead of just walking away. I wondered whether some relationships were meant to stay buried, or could be picked up with at any time, or need to be, and can be repaired with some fearless honesty. When art has that ability, the creator and the work have done its job.

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