In Other Halves, the sequel to The Half-Life of Hannah, Nick Alexander tries to portray and explain the challenges of moving on from a fifteen year-long marriage, with a young son caught in the crossfire.
The Half-Life of Hannah challenged the notion that you are allowed to follow your dreams, and not feel stuck in your everyday routine. Other Halves, in turn, describes the beginning of the rest of Hannah´s and Cliff´s lives as they struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of their not-so-relaxing holiday in France. Hannah has left Cliff to pursue her love for his brother, and Cliff is coming to terms with the admission that he is, indeed, bisexual. Their son, Luke, must fight through his parents’ divorce, faced with the difficult decision between choosing to live with his dad, or move with his mother and her new boyfriend to Australia.
The book is narrated by both Hannah and Cliff, which gives an interesting insight into their entirely different muses and feelings. Cliff´s narration is thought-provoking and exciting as he is given the opportunity to explore his own sexuality. He has admirably accepted that Hannah has chosen his brother over him, and sees this as a chance to challenge himself as an individual and discover who he really is. For each new chapter narrated by Cliff, there is an unexpected surprise that makes it fresh to read.
Unfortunately, the other half of the book, narrated by Hannah, is as dull and predictable as her depiction in the first novel. Surprisingly, it is Hannah and not Cliff who cannot let go of their marriage, even though she was the one responsible for its demise. Hannah wants to move to Australia to pursue her love for James, but the essence of Hannah´s story is no more than a repetition of the same feelings and insecurities as were seen in its prequel.
Disappointingly, Hannah´s narration does not add any flavour to the book, but it is a necessary supplement to understand Cliff´s own journey. Alexander´s shift from portraying only Hannah in the first novel, to giving a voice to Cliff´s character in the second, is a saving grace, and he undertakes the narration with clear insight and understanding. On the other hand, Alexander´s portrayal of Luke is not as insightful, leaving much to be desired in regards to an honest approach to the son’s difficult position caught in the crossfire between his parents.
On a commendable note, Alexander’s sequel is not littered with the clichés found in the first novel. Instead, the steps Cliff and Hannah take as they struggle to move past their failed marriage are grounded in realism. It is an honest portrayal of the beginning of the rest of their lives, and – as in its predecessor – Alexander’s hand writes in an ever easy and entertaining manner