Must I Go by Yiyun Li

This book has been on my TBR list for over a year, it was one of the titles I selected as part of my Rare Birds Bookshop advent calendar, Christmas 2021, and I finally managed to pluck it off the shelves with the help of my TBR Pile Tarot Cards.

I think, despite the beautiful cover, I have avoided this book as I felt that it would be a very serious read that would require a large amount of concentration. However, I need to not let impressions like that put me off reading a book – as, in fact, this was a wonderful read, and one that I will be recommending to people.

‘Must I Go’ introduces us to Lilia Liska who has reached the grand old age of 81, and lived what may seem like a fairly ordinary life surrounded by family. However, there is a slightly different narrative to her life that she has not shared quite as readily with the world, and decides now is the time as she begins to reflect on her past. There was once a man, Roland Bauley, who held her heart and she carried as a secret – and now she is annotating his diaries with the alternative history of her past to leave for one of her granddaughters, and one of her great-granddaughters, to help them understand the truth of the past.

I was so drawn into this story because it is so beautifully told and Lilia seems such an ordinary elderly lady at the start of the story, but as we are shown the secrets of of Ronald Bauley’s diary, she becomes such a fascinating character. And I just had to keep finding out more once I had started reading.

If you like a beautifully written story about love, family and hidden pasts, then this is the book for you. You will find yourself eager to find out what happens next, and even wondering how the story may have continued once that annotated diary is read by those who it was intended for. And that, to me, is a sign of a good book.

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