The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch
Published: August 4th 2022 by Little Island Books
Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Genre: Young Adult // Coming-Of-Age, Sci-Fi/Time-Loop
Quick Thoughts: A wonder of a novel that commands contemplation, delivers powerful sentiments and leaves you changed by the end.
About The Book:
Spence and Anthony have been friends for years, but it’s only when he witnesses a classmate die in what looks like a tragic accident at a house party that a flicker in the fabric of time helps Spence ‘see’ Anthony for the first time.
When Spence wakes up to the same day again and sees Clara, the girl who died, alive and well, it’s clear he’s been granted a second chance. And a third. And a fourth…
Caught in a loop, condemned to experience the same 24 hours over and over, Spence tries to prevent the terrible events of the party.
To break the spell he has to re-evaluate everything he previously took for granted and find the courage to call out his own and others complicity in events that marked the life and death of Clara Hart.
I had seen The Eternal Return of Clara Hart on Twitter on-and-off for a few weeks before the lovely author, Louise, asked if I wanted to read it—to which I jumped at the chance! Not only have I begun a great love for time-loop novels as of late, but I am a sucker for a book with a meaningful message at it’s core.
Main character Spence has had a tough time recently. Not only had he lost his Mum and been in a strange place with his Dad, but now his car has been dented by none other than Clara Hart as he wakes up inside it at school. Enigmatic, yet not quite popular, she’s been a crush of Spence’s for a long time, but turned down his offer to go out a while back. Spence thinks nothing of this God-awful day, the anniversary of his Mum being gone, brushing on with lessons, lunch in the cafeteria with best friends Anthony and Worm as they “rate” girls, followed by a party at Anthony’s in the evening. But what starts as a typical, run-of-the-mill day turns sour—Clara Hart is dead by the end of the night.
There are so many things Spence wishes he could’ve done differently after witnessing Anthony possibly commit assault, and the whirlwind death of Clara soon after. So when Spence wakes up the next morning, back at the beginning of yesterday in his car again, the very-much-alive Clara Hart in front of him, he can’t believe it. Not only does he get a chance to save a life, but find out if his best friend really is a terrible person. But no matter how Spence tries to “fix” the day, he still wakes up the next morning back at the start—until finally, he realises what is the key, and how to not only mend what’s been broken, but change himself in the process.
Overall, The Eternal Return Of Clara Hart did more than just grip my attention—it dominated it. Usually with male POVs, I don’t feel much of a connection to the narrative, but there was something so striking, so easy about Spence’s voice. The book not only dealt with feelings of grief, but sexual assault/violence, holding your friends accountable, toxic masculinity, misogyny, and more. There was *so much* character development, personal growth and a true journey that made this more than just a book, but a lesson. This was such a wonder of a novel that commands contemplation, delivers powerful sentiments and leaves you changed by the end. Five stars wholeheartedly!
Louise grew up in a small town in the Midlands. After studying History of Art she worked for over a decade in the charity sector across women’s and LGBT+ rights, and youth arts. She now lives in the South East of England with her photographer husband, their two small dogs and too many house plants, surrounded by books, craft supplies and vintage furniture.