by Mhairi McFarlane
Publication: May 4, 2021
Eve was in love with Ed in their teens, and now in their thirties, she remains in love with him. Although he has a girlfriend, she still keeps wondering about what could have been, hoping there might still be a chance for them, especially since she believes he might still be in love with her too. Everything changes in a single night and secrets are revealed that make Eve doubt the things she thought she knew.
Just Last Night retains the elements that make me gravitate toward McFarlane’s books from realistic characters to poignant reflections on life, yet I couldn’t help but be unfulfilled by it. It’s almost as though there are two distinct books bounded together into a single novel. Separately, I’d give the first half 4 stars and the second would also receive 4 stars, but when they’re together the sum is not exactly equal to its parts–I’m giving it 3.5 stars. It’s a story of love, grief, hope, and learning to move forward.
Part I: Eve recalls how she and Susie became friends with Ed and Justin along with memories of Ed and Eve’s missed connection. Eve is incredibly lucky to have a close knit group of friends, but just because they’re close doesn’t mean there are aren’t secrets. Betrayal can be found in unexpected places. Eve learns this the hard way when she discovers secrets that make her wonder if she might have been better left in the dark. Eve’s seemingly blind loyalty is challenged, which adds on to the grief she is already battling with. This first part tugged at me because I hate regrets and loose ends. McFarlane emphasizes that, unfortunately, we don’t always get the answers to the questions that we have. The emotional turmoil is prominently center as Eve is left struggling to understand why.
Part II: Eve makes several realizations about her life and about the people around her during and after an unplanned road trip. Insight from an unexpected individual helps her discover that she deserves better than what she’s had. In this section, I discovered that Eve is definitely a better person than I am–she is much more forgiving. My reaction would been terrible and I would cut off ties. It was empowering to see Eve ask for more for herself. It was a “hand raising, finally” moment for me. It’s true. Sometimes we don’t get the closure we want, so we have to create our own. It’s ultimately up to us to decide what is worth keeping, what we need to let go, and how to keep pushing forward.
The two parts are connected with Eve’s arc being the thread. They are very much before and after, but I would have liked something to help transition from one part to the next. It is a hard hitting book, so if you pick it up please be prepared.