A Strange Companion by Lisa Manterfield
Kat Richardson isn’t running away from grief; she’s just hiding out in a gloomy Welsh university town until she’s sure it’s gone. Now, one year, nine months, and 27 days after the climbing death of her first love, Gabe, she thinks she’s ready to venture out into the relationship world again. And Owen—a cake-baking, Super Ball-making chemistry student—appears to be a kind, funny, and very attractive option.
But the arrival of Kat’s newly adopted niece, Mai, forces her home to northern England, where she runs headfirst into all the memories of Gabe she’s tried to leave behind—and discovers that Mai stirs up an unnerving feeling of déjà vu. Before long, Kat’s logical, scientific beliefs about life after death are in battle with what she feels to be true—that reincarnation is real and Gabe has come back to her through Mai. The question now, is why?
Taking on the topics of love, loss, and how we deal with grief, A Strange Companion is a twisted love triangle among the living, the dead, and the reincarnated.
I ran my hand along the log, waiting for my fingers to find the small indentations I knew would be there. They didn’t. The initials and the heart that Gabe had carved into the bark of the log now lay beneath a smooth carpet of moss, as if our love was something lost to the past. I pressed my finger into the moss but not a single tear would come. I simply sat there on the log and remembered.
Grief, apparently, had a mind of its own. It had snuck up on me in unexpected places, but now that I needed it, it would not do my bidding. I pushed up off the log, wiping at my dry eyes. I would be home for three full weeks, plenty of time to go looking for grief. My hometown was filled with memories of Gabe and I’d keep looking until I found them all.