Consequences. Unfortunately, this is a word not taken into consideration by too many young people when making decisions or taking action. Not considering the consequences of having sex without contraception. Not considering the consequences of bullying an individual. Not considering the consequences of taking someone’s life with a knife.
Consequences of bad decisions are at the centre of the novel, The Life He Chose, by Candace Bertram. It tells the story of a young couple, Jay and Lauryn, who are living a fast, flashy lifestyle, which is being paid for by Jay’s illegal dealings. However, the real price of all this is deceit, unhappiness, betrayal and violence.
The Life He Chose is Candace’s debut book, which she started writing after tragically losing her brother to knife crime in 2007. He was just 24 when he died. Losing a family member who was so close to her was incredibly difficult and Candace was struggling to grieve, so she made the decision to channel her grief through writing.
Candace says: “I knew that I needed to spread a message to young people about living a meaningful life and staying away from the wrong crowd, who were doing the wrong things.”
Despite knife crime playing a role in The Life He Chose, it is not the main focus, with the story focusing heavily on drugs, organised crime and unhealthy relationships. Candace also says that her book explores why some of the younger generation choose to go down the criminal route, which becomes evident with the many references to designer labels, flashy cars and showy houses.
What is most interesting about the novel is that it comes from Lauryn’s point of view, rather than Jay’s, as we see her “perfect” life begin to fall apart and she finally starts to see Jay for what he really is. It gives us the opportunity to look at this type of lifestyle from a female’s point of view, which isn’t often the case.
Lauryn’s naivety and sometimes outright stupidity jumps out at you from the first chapter, all the way through to the end. You constantly find yourself wondering why she accepts the flash lifestyle without questioning how Jay is able to realistically afford it. And you can’t help shaking your head when Lauryn expresses that Jay is the best boyfriend because of all the expensive gifts he showers her with.
However, when the novel flashes back to how Jay and Lauryn met, it seems that a then 20-year-old Jay preyed on a then a 16-year-old Lauryn, who was an innocent girl lacking any real life experience. We later see that Jay has been manipulating Lauryn, and begin to sense that he has isolated her from her family and friends. Jay has a girl under his control.
It shows how quickly life can spin out of control for girls like Lauryn, who crave attention, love and material things so much, they will do anything or give up anything to get it. The choices Lauryn makes to land her love and attention are eventually what lead to devastating consequences, which she will live to regret.
The Life He Chose is a fast-paced story that you will not want to put down, as you try to anticipate what will happen next. This is a novel that is extremely relevant and will hopefully make young people think twice before making certain decisions, giving more thought to the possible consequences of their actions.
Candace Bertram has done well in writing her first novel and hopefully her efforts will cause change, especially as it is a book the evolved from her grief over her brother’s death. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.