Today, one of my favorite reads this year is out for all: Some of It Was Real by Nan Fischer. It’s a story of a psychic-medium with a dark past, a reporter determined to expose it, and the mystery and even romance that intertwine with heartfelt drama. This book encapsulates a lot, and yet it’s done so beautifully. It’s out now, and is 100% worth picking up.
Special thanks to the publicists at Penguin Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!
Sylvie Young is a psychic-medium whose career is on the rise, but she has her secrets: the panic attacks and anxiety she suffers, the estrangement from her adoptive parents and mystery surrounding her birth parents. Thomas Holmes, a reporter whose job is on the line, is writing an exposé about psychics – “grief vampires,” as he calls them – and Sylvie is one of his targets. If she can prove beyond any doubt that she’s not a scammer – that she does, in fact, have psychic abilities – Thomas will leave her out of his exposé. But they’ll need to spend all their time together for the next week, in part so he can keep an eye on her, and in part to learn more about her potentially sordid past. What really happened to her birth parents? What’s so horrific in her past that everyone is covering it up? And why might Thomas and Sylvie not quite be the enemies they think they are?
Some of It Was Real may be the most surprising book I’ve read this year. I went into it without any real expectations; I wasn’t sure where it fit genre-wise, I didn’t know what kind of tone it would have, and I wasn’t prepared for the journey it would take me on. But from the first chapters I was hooked, and it only got better as it went.
To be fair with my first point of confusion, Some of It Was Real doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, instead combining elements of a few. At its heart, this is a drama about Sylvie’s personal and family history and what kind of person she is now. But there’s also a big mystery, giving this a thrilling, page-turner energy. On the other hand, it could be seen as a romance, at least partially, and it features some common romance tropes: fake dating and enemies to lovers.
The story follows Thomas and Sylvie’s separate points of view, each chapter told from one of their perspectives. As different as they may think they are, they’re actually quite similar. Both of them are excellent at reading people and drawing out hidden meanings, both in a person’s verbal and nonverbal cues. Similarly, each is adept at subtly manipulating people, asking leading questions in order to mine for certain answers. Sylvie, in particular, recognizes this similarity; Thomas is much more reluctant to accept such a comparison. Indeed, he abhors what Sylvie does as a medium-psychic. In his view, she’s a con-artist.
Despite his initial distrust of Sylvie, Thomas must remain objective and open-minded as he studies her. Can he recognize and overcome his own prejudices and presuppositions? And in terms of a potential romance, can he and Sylvie ever have a good relationship if the foundation is so flimsy? Even though they have a lot of work to do if they want to pursue a relationship, I was rooting for them.
I loved getting to know the world of psychic-mediums and Sylvie’s own unexplained abilities. Whether you believe it in real life or not, it’s fascinating to watch Sylvie here and get inside her mind as she hears a departed loved one’s message, has a vision of a past scene, or foresees something that’s impossible to know.
The mystery surrounding Sylvie’s past is beautifully done, and I was very invested in it. Even as Sylvie and Thomas come up upon one dead end after another, my curiosity and care for Sylvie kept me hoping they’d finally unearth the truth. What really happened to Sylvie’s birth parents? Why won’t anyone give her any answers? Her adoptive parents, her foster care case worker, everyone shuts the door in her face at the slightest mention of the long-buried truth. As we near the end of the novel, it becomes clear that something horrific happened, and the final reveal is shocking and heartbreaking.
I love the examination of mental health, too. Sylvie suffers from anxiety, panic attacks, and a constantly roiling stomach. She’s cycled through therapists but never stayed with one for very long. Although Thomas doesn’t quite trust or respect Sylvie at first, he does begin to care about her and wants to help her out with her mental health struggles. I greatly appreciated this aspect of the novel, and it gave Thomas a chance to show his better side.
One final note for the pet lovers out there: Furry companions play a big role in Some of It Was Real. Sylvie has a big dog named Moose; Thomas has an elderly cat named Christopher Robins – Chris for short; she’s a girl. In regards to the cat, get ready for some tears along the way. Perhaps the best thing about Thomas is his deep love for this sweet old cat.
Some of It Was Real is a beautiful and enchanting novel that hits on so many notes and combines genres perfectly. It’s magical and funny, yet emotional, tragic, and haunting. It’s filled with love and grief, mystery and hope. Even though I had no idea what I was getting into when I started it, this has risen up to be one of my favorite reads of this year.
I’ve only read the ebook ARC of Some of It Was Real, but I will be picking up a physical copy now that it’s out. I also look forward to reading more from Nan Fischer, because her writing his captivating.
Get the Book
You can buy Some of It Was Real here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
Please note that the above link is an Amazon affiliate link and I may earn a commission on any purchases you make.
|Some of It Was Real by Nan Fischer|
|Genre||Drama; Mystery; Romance|
|Number of Pages||352|
|Format I Read||ebook (NetGalley)|
|Original Publication Date||July 26, 2022|
A psychic on the verge of stardom who isn’t sure she believes in herself and a cynical journalist with one last chance at redemption are brought together by secrets from the past that also threaten to tear them apart.
Psychic-medium Sylvie Young starts every show with her origin story, telling the audience how she discovered her abilities. But she leaves out a lot—the plane crash that killed her parents, an estranged adoptive family who tend orchards in rainy Oregon, panic attacks, and the fact that her agent insists she research some clients to ensure success.
After a catastrophic reporting error, Thomas Holmes’s next story at the L.A. Times may be his last, but he’s got a great personal pitch. “Grief vampires” like Sylvie who prey upon the loved ones of the deceased have bankrupted his mother. He’s dead set on using his last-chance article to expose Sylvie as a conniving fraud and resurrect his career.
When Sylvie and Thomas collide, a game of cat and mouse ensues, but the secrets they’re keeping from each other are nothing compared to the mysteries and lies they unearth about Sylvie’s past. Searching for the truth might destroy them both—but it’s the only way to find out what’s real.
About the Author
Nan Fischer is the author of Some Of It Was Real (July 2022, Berkley Publishing), and the young adult novels, When Elephants Fly and The Speed of Falling Objects. Additional author credits include Junior Jedi Knights, a middle grade Star Wars trilogy for LucasFilm, and co-authored sport autobiographies for elite athletes including #1 ranked tennis superstar Monica Seles, Triple Crown race winning jockey Julie Krone, Olympic gold medal speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, and Olympic gold medal gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Shannon Miller. Honors include:
- Two-time Oregon Book Award Finalist
- Parade Top 20 Most Anticipated Books
- #1 on Bookstr’s Top 15 Unputdownable YA Reads
- The Culturalist Top Ten Most Anticipated YA Books
- Hypable Books You Can’t Afford to Miss!
- Bookstr 10 Amazing New YA Books Adults Will Love, Too
- Missouri Gateway Reader Award Nominee
- Hypable 15 Best YA Novels of 2019
- Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Contemporary YA New Releases
A graduate of Cornell University and former Traveling Writer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Senior Campaign Writer for The University of California, San Francisco, Nan’s articles have appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, The Huffington Post, Powell’s Book Blog, YA Books Central, Germ Magazine, Hypable, and School Library Journal.
Nan lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Henry, and sometimes vorpal, but always lovable, Vizsla, Boone. When she’s not conjuring a story or reading, Nan can be found hiking, biking, kitesurfing, skiing or planning her family’s next adventure.