Top Shelf: ‘Everyone We’ve Been’

Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett

Rest in peace my heart

As every reader knows, we have books that stay with us. Whether we heavily related to the characters or because the writing was so painfully bad, we all cultivate a list of memorable reads; Sarah Everett’s “Everyone We’ve Been” is definitely one of mine.

To put it simply, this book ruined me. I read it close to two years ago now, but I still find myself looking back on it. I think highly of books that have the ability to make me truly feel something, so the level of emotion this book made me experience is not something I take lightly.

I sobbed. A lot. I put the book down, stared at a wall for an hour and was incapable of escaping that post-book sadness for several days. It was rough. The characters were fictional, but my broken heart was not.

So what, you may ask, was this book about that managed to emotionally decimate my soul?

Sixteen-year-old Addison meets a cute boy on the bus and they hit it off immediately. But when the bus crashes and she ends up in the hospital, there’s no trace of him anywhere. Afterwards, Addie can’t stop thinking about the mystery boy. She runs into him constantly and feels a deep connection with him, but she can’t figure out why.

When she tries to explain him to her friend, Katie, she realizes Katie can’t actually see him. No one else can. He is a ghost of her memories, a figment of the boy that was wiped from her mind. Addie quite literally had every trace of him erased from her memory, but because of this fact, she can’t actually remember why.

Addie tries to dig deeper into her past to find out what happened the summer that she had erased. She visits the Overton Clinic, the facility that had cleared her memory, and learns this boy isn’t the only thing in her past she has had erased.

The book is told through two parallel storylines. One of the narratives follows Addie in the present, trying to figure out what happened to her and replace the parts of her memory that are no longer there. The other follows the storyline Addie had erased, from the day she met that boy to the day she went to the clinic. What results is a highly addictive narrative. I was stuck reading at high speeds, desperate to finish the two timelines and figure out what truly happened to Addie that was so unbearable she had it erased.

The narrative was fascinating to me. What do you do when you find out you willingly had memories permanently removed from your mind? How do you justify choices you can’t remember making, let alone your justification for making them in the first place? The concept was wild to begin with, but it grows even more intriguing when you learn that part of Addie’s childhood has been erased too. I have so much respect for Addie’s character and the way she deals with the events of the novel. How do you remain sane when you learn there are entire months of your life you can’t remember living?

Everett blends the past and present seamlessly in her debut novel, “Everyone We’ve Been.” Her characterization is spectacular and complex, and her writing style is lyrical. While the plot detaches from reality a bit when the Overton Clinic gets involved, which was initially a little confusing since the book is mainly realistic fiction, I still found it to be an enjoyable read.

Even if aspects of the plot, such as that, weren’t entirely realistic, the moral of the novel is: Heartbreak can be overcome. It hurts like an absolute b*tch, but you’ll survive it. Running from your past, or in this case, erasing it, only makes it worse.

All and all, it was an amazing and memorable read. It hurts like hell to finish, but it’s worth it.

Rating: 4/5.



Courtney Gavitt is a Staff Writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at courtney.gavitt@uconn.edu.