Review: What If?

Published September 29th 2020  (First published January 25th 2001), 362 pages

Author: Shari Low


Carly Cooper is 30, single, and after coming close to saying ‘I Do’ to six different men, she’s wondering if she accidentally said ‘goodbye’ to Mr Right.
But there is a problem:

Her ex-boyfriends are scattered all over the world and Carly lives in 1999; an era before Facebook, Google, smartphones, 4G and Broadband, when it was impossible to track people down with a few clicks of a mouse.

On a mission to discover if she walked away from her ‘happy ever after’, Carly quits her job, her flat, her whole life and sets off on a quest to track down all the men she has ever loved.

Her Mr Right is out there, but can she find him?
And what if he’s moved on from the ex-girlfriend who said goodbye?

I read What If? as I received the sequel What Now? as an ARC read. Normally, I do not read books back to back as I either do not have every book in the series or I just forget, so it was nice to read them together. You do not have to read the sequel to enjoy this novel as it could be a standalone. It is hard to believe that this book was published back in 2001 and is already 20 years old as it feels like it could have been written much more recently. The book takes place in the 1990s, which was fun trip back in time! I also loved the song choices as titles and decided to attempt to listen to them during each chapter, which was a little difficult as, obviously, reading the chapter lasts a little longer than the song.

Carly is living in London and is single at the age of 30. She starts to have a “mid-life crisis” where she starts to question if she wants to continue with her career and if she might have missed her chance at finding lasting love. It was interesting to see her thought process on 30 being the “mid-life” point as it is still very young to have your life fully together. As Carly thinks about the relationships that did not work from her past, she begins to wonder if maybe one of those relationships was a missed chance at future happiness. She thinks of six past boyfriends, some of whom she was engaged to for a short time, and believes that one of them has to be the soulmate she missed out on. She decides that in order to find love, she must try and reconnect with these men, but it proves difficult as they are spread across the world!

The story centers on Carly’s journey around the world to travel and find these long lost ex-boyfriends in hopes that one of them will become the one for her. Along with the tales of her meeting each guy, the story also gives background into the past before she and each guy broke up. It was interesting and entertaining to read about this eclectic group of men and how they all fit into Carly’s life at different times. It makes you begin to think about any relationships from your own past and wonder what would happen if you met them today (would it work or would it be disaster?).  Each boyfriend offers a different perspective to the story which was well done so the reader does not get bored. It can get a little repetitive as six is a lot to revisit, but the story is enthralling and you find yourself not fixating on the length.  The books keeps you guessing on who, if any, of the men that Carly would end up with as you have your guess and could be 99% sure, but you never get to 100% while reading.

Carly is a fantastic character. I love that she decided to find her past loves and found a way to make it happen. She shows a lot of resourcefulness as she managed to pull off travels around the world to find men before the age of social media. (This novel really makes you miss the simplicity of the 90s in a way.) She has a very outgoing personality and she is confident in whom she is and it was written well, which made her a very likable character. She has a fantastic support group of girlfriends and family that are there for her when she needs them and she, in turn, is there for them.  They provided excellent support as secondary characters while being interesting enough that I would not mind reading any of them a main character in their own novel.

Overall, this is my first Shari Low book and will definitely not be my last as she brings such wit and humor to her writing.  It is an amusing read and you find yourself wanting to not put it down. I found myself reading this in a lot short time than I planned and I would gladly reread this anytime. The first part with Carly reliving the past is given a little more time and thought compared to the second as the adventure can feel slightly rushed as there is a lot that needs to happen before the end. For me, I would have preferred less backstory and more on the adventure, but every reader will have their own thoughts. If anything, the author could have done the best of both and just increased the adventure portion to make the overall novel longer and I would have been a happy reader. There is a lot of entertaining pieces in this story and it flows well as Carly goes from one guy to the next. Traveling along with Carly was a delight and I loved how the story wrapped up in the end and I cannot wait to immediately start the sequel!

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