Book Review: In Real Life by Chris Killen


Title: In Real Life
Author: Chris Killen
Published: January 15th 2015
Publisher: Canongate
Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Length: 352 pages

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blurb (via Goodreads):


For a while, Ian, Lauren and Paul shared the same friends, the same university, the same dreams and the same potential. Ten years on they are worlds apart. Call centres, charity shops and bedrooms that smell like cabbage were never part of the plan. The real world doesn’t look quite like any of them imagined. But when Lauren, in a moment of nostalgia, cracks open a long-forgotten Hotmail account, she comes face to face with the people these three friends used to be . . .

For two of them it will mean a new beginning to an old love story.

Hilarious and heart-breaking, In Real Life paints a searingly honest portrait of a generation and captures a world where human connection is easier than ever before but where relationships remain just as tricky.

My Thoughts

I was really intrigued by the premise for In Real Life and I was excited to pick it up. In the end though, it fell a little short of my expectations.

The story follows three people: Lauren, Paul, and Ian. They were friends during their university years and drifted apart. Through flashbacks to 2004 and present day, we follow the three to discover where they’ve gone with their lives.

Lauren is still trying to find herself after her breakup with Paul all those years ago. Living in Canada for a year didn’t help and now she’s stuck working in a charity shop and wondering what she’s doing with her life.

Paul has been stuck in a loveless relationship for some time, working on his second novel (but never getting more than a few words down at a time), and lecturing at the local college. Having an affair with a student and a cancer scare seem to give him a wake up call, but he doesn’t really change.

Ian has had it rough since his band never took off and the HMV he was working in was closed. Moving in with his sister and swallowing his pride to work in a call centre with her horrible boyfriend is the last thing he wanted.

It was really interesting to see how far the three had gone in ten years. The narrative was interrupted with emails between Ian and Lauren during her time in Canada and you really feel like something could have happened between them – if she had only said no to Michael, a guy she met in Canada.

I liked the end, but the overall story moved a bit on the slow side for my liking. It was a great story and an interesting look into how vastly different people’s lives can change in ten years, but there was something missing from it to make me really like it.

A good story about relationships and ‘growing up’. Definitely worth checking out.


This book is available at the following links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository

About the Author

I am the author of the novels In Real Life (2015) and The Bird Room (2009).

You can find out more about Chris at the following links: Website | Twitter

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