Author: Bethany Turner
Narrators: Talon David
Audiobook Length: 7 hours 42 minutes
An aspiring screenwriter has a chance encounter with an actor who could be the man of her dreams. Over the next ten years, she’ll write the story . . . but will he end up being the star?
February 4, 2003, promises to be a typical day for Olivia Ross—a greeting card writer whose passion project is a screenplay of her own. But after she and a handsome actor have a magical meet-cute in a coffee shop, they make a spontaneous pact: in ten years, after they’ve found the success they’re just sure they’re going to achieve, they’ll return to the coffeehouse to partner up and make a film together. The only problem? Olivia neglected to get the stranger’s name. But she doesn’t forget his face—or the date.
For the next ten years, every February 4 is marked with coincidences and ironies for Olivia. As men come and go and return to her life, she continues to write, but still wonders about the guy from the coffee shop—the nameless actor she’s almost certain has turned out to be Hamish MacDougal, now a famous A-lister and Hollywood leading man.
But a lot can happen in ten years, and while waiting for the curtain to rise on her fate, the true story of Olivia’s life is being written—and if she’s not careful, she’ll completely miss the real-life romantic comedy playing out right before her eyes.
Plot Twist follows a character across ten years from 30 years old to 40 years old. Each chapter features the same day (February 4th) and features the main character at each point on that date in her life. Going into this story, I thought this concept was very original and sounded like a lot of fun. I did not realize that this was labeled as a Christian fiction novel until I saw it on Goodreads after finishing the novel. From the author’s note, her other novels fall under this category with faith integrated more into the story. As she continues to publish with the same publisher, a Christian publishing house, this novel falls under the same genre by default without including a lot of the genre in the novel itself. While it was not a contributing factor to my enjoyment of the story or why I selected it to read, it is something to be aware of depending on your reasons for giving this novel a try.
Olivia Ross is 30 years old and works as a greeting card writer, but dreams of being a screenplay writer. On February 4, 2003, she is at a coffee shop working on her latest project when a man, who she thinks might be Irish and is an aspiring actor. The two of them make a pact to meet again at the exact spot in the coffee shop in Culver City in ten years when Olivia is a successful screenwriter and the mystery man is a famous actor. The story then jumps each year to February 4th where the reader meets a few love interests of Olivia’s along the way, including Liam (the one she is with towards the very beginning of the story) and Malcolm (the one after Liam). The reader is also introduced to Fiona, Olivia’s best friend since she was nine years old who is also trying to break into the movie business.
While the characters were complex and interesting, I was surprised at many of their mistakes. They keep secrets from each other by not fully communicating with each other ranging from cheating to omitting certain facts from conversations. I did appreciate that the characters were not perfect and made mistakes, but I do not feel that they learned from a lot of them. Throughout the novel there is some growth where they learn a little from their past, but it was not as much as I expected. The cheating aspect was one of the worst parts about this novel, for me, as it just seemed unnecessary and made me really dislike the characters involved. I could not comprehend why the character(s) would be involved with another while clearly pining for another as it is extremely hurtful to the other party that has no idea. The same end point and tension could have been created in other ways where I would still care about them and there would not be cheating involved.
The ending of the story was easy enough to put together some pieces predict them, but there was a nice plot twist at the end that I did not even fathom being a part of the story. Unfortunately, the cheating aspect of the story was reminiscent of One Day in December, where I cannot wrap my head about how this could be considered romantic. Now the part of the story that I loved was Olivia’s dream of getting her screenplay finally becoming a reality. I loved how the story starts with her at the beginning stages and it becomes a running subplot throughout the novel. She continues to work on it and wants to become a full-time writer as a career. It was nice to see a character in her 30s still trying to make her dreams happen as many stories feature younger characters already in their dream fields. Olivia is still lost on how to make hers a reality, but she continues to try, which I admired.
The friendships in this story were interesting as Fiona is heavily involved in the story as Olivia’s support system and Liam, an ex-boyfriend turned friend is also included. The friendships were interesting and had a lot of ups and downs. The most difficult part about this novel is the time jumps as the reader is constantly playing catch-up to current events. Olivia’s life is different in each chapter, so the reader has to figure out what has happened between the last chapter and the current while also balancing the new events happening on the page. While I loved the concept of one year for each chapter across a ten-year period in theory, I do not think I am a fan as there just was not enough time for me fully connect with the characters or plot/subplots.
Overall, there is some nice humor throughout the story and, again, I loved the synopsis, but I do not think this book and I aligned. There is a nice theme throughout about the importance of transparency that is included throughout, which I enjoyed. I also liked the journey across years with hopes, dreams, broken dreams, new opportunities, and missed opportunities as it made it more realistic and relatable. Events in the story did not develop overnight and took time either for different characters to grow emotionally, career-wise, or in general life. I also enjoyed the random bits of humor with seeing celebrities around Los Angeles, as it does happen randomly with both the celebrity involved and the location you see them. Over everything, the one thing I appreciate is that the writer chose a “random” date of February 4th instead of using Christmas, New Years, etc. There are some open-ended characters, such as Hamish and Caleb, where I would have liked something more with them, but I am not sure how this would be accomplished given the structure of the novel. Additionally, the ending was a little rushed after a lot of build-up from the beginning of the story and I would have loved a little more time to connect with how it all wrapped up. Even with my critiques, I would still recommend this novel to others. This novel may not have been quite for me, but it was a nice easy and enjoyable read.