Friday, August 13, 2021

Review- She Wouldn't Change A Thing Interview with author Sarah Adlakha

When I saw a review for this novel I knew I had to have it for two reasons, the premise really intrigued me and it was a debut so today I'm reviewing this amazing debut, She Wouldn't Change A Thing and picking the brain of it's incredible creator, Sarah Adlakha.

ISBN-13:  9781250774552
Publisher: Tor/Forge
Release Date: 08-10-2021
Length: 304pp
Source: Netgalley/Publisher for review
Buy It: Amazon/ B&N/ IndieBound



Sliding Doors meets Life After Life in Sarah Adlakha's story about a wife and mother who is given the chance to start over at the risk of losing everything she loves.

A second chance is the last thing she wants.

When thirty-nine year old Maria Forssmann wakes up in her seventeen-year-old body, she doesn’t know how she got there. All she does know is she has to get back: to her home in Bienville, Mississippi, to her job as a successful psychiatrist and, most importantly, to her husband, daughters, and unborn son.

But she also knows that, in only a few weeks, a devastating tragedy will strike her husband, a tragedy that will lead to their meeting each other.

Can she change time and still keep what it’s given her?

Exploring the responsibilities love lays on us, the complicated burdens of motherhood, and the rippling impact of our choices, She Wouldn't Change a Thing is a dazzling debut from a bright new voice.

Read an excerpt:


Bienville, Mississippi, 2010


It was the laughter she would remember, years later, when she thought about that moment, even though she couldn’t hear it. They were too far away, or perhaps she was too far away, tucked beneath the canopy and sheltered from the sun, listening to the waves roll onto the shore as they tried to lull her to sleep in chorus with the gulls that soared overhead. Her family danced along the beach, her husband crashing through the surf with a daughter tucked under each arm, their laughter searching for her over the expanse of sand. It was useless; it never found her; and as the image of her family faded from her mind, panic took its place.

7:30 A.M.

That couldn’t be right. Her alarm was set for 6:30 and it hadn’t gone off yet. She reached across the bed for her husband, but the sheets were abandoned and cold. Why didn’t he wake her up? She rubbed her eyes and took another look at the clock.

7:31 A.M.

The shower was running in the bathroom. She thought she’d managed to rein in her frustration, but the door slammed against the wall when she pushed it open.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?”

Her husband wiped away the droplets of water from the shower door and smiled at her. “I thought you were taking the day off,” he said. “So I let you sleep in.”

A thousand things were spinning through her head—kids, school, work, hair, clothes, teeth—but she couldn’t stop hearing, I thought you were taking the day off. When had she ever just taken a day off?

Her husband’s smile faded back into oblivion behind the fog of the tempered shower glass as Maria got to work with a toothbrush in one hand and a hairbrush in the other. She was thankful she could no longer see him. It was impossible to stay mad at Will when she could see his face.

By the time she got her teeth brushed and her hair wrangled into a ponytail, there were a dozen spiky grays sticking out of her head at all angles, but there was no use trying to tame them. There was no time for hair spray; no time for makeup, though she could have used a gallon of concealer for the bags around her eyes; no time for the cocoa butter belly lotion that was supposed to have prevented the stretch marks that were already streaked across her belly. No one expected these things from her anymore. Makeup and hair spray were for single women or newlyweds, not a pregnant mother of two with a full-time job and a husband whose work hours stretched long into the night.

“Did you wake the girls up?” she asked, but she was already on her way out the door. She could hear her husband mumbling something about letting all of them sleep in, as she waddled down the hallway like a beleaguered penguin. This pregnancy was nothing like the other two, though she couldn’t say why. There were no complications, and chromosomally their unborn son was perfect; they had the results of genetic testing to prove it. But there was an uneasiness that had clung to her throughout this pregnancy, like she hadn’t appreciated what she’d been given and was pushing her luck thinking she could pull this off at her age. Forty felt too old.

Emily was already awake. She sat like a statue in her toddler bed, and Maria could smell the urine before she even reached her daughter’s side. She pulled back the waistband of the soaked pajama bottoms, knowing what she’d find.

“Why aren’t you wearing your Pull-Ups, baby?”

“I’m sorry, Mommy.” Emily’s lip trembled as tears filled her mahogany-colored eyes. Maria wanted to feel sorry for her, but it was the third time in three days that her daughter had taken off her bedtime Pull-Ups, and there was no time for pity. “I’m a big girl. I don’t wear diapers.”

“Okay.” Maria kissed the top of her daughter’s head as she pulled her off the bed with more force than she’d intended. “Don’t cry. It was just an accident.” The urine spot on the mattress was bigger than seemed possible and was an unpleasant reminder that she’d forgotten to put on the waterproof mattress cover when she’d changed the sheets the previous night. Just one more thing to deal with after work.

She was wiping the urine off her daughter when Will walked into the bathroom. He was going on about a car servicing appointment that was scheduled for that afternoon.

“Three o’clock,” he said. “And you can get a rental if you can’t stay. Just let them know when you get there.”

“Three?” she mumbled. “That’s not great timing.” Did she already know about this? It seemed like something she would have put in her calendar, but her memory was unreliable these days. Pregnancy brain. That’s what people called it, but she didn’t remember battling with her mind like this during her previous pregnancies. Maybe she’d already cleared out her afternoon schedule and had just forgotten.

“It’s okay if you can’t make it,” Will continued. “I can do it early next week, after I get back from the conference.”

“No, it’s fine. I can do it.” Maria shrugged it off, as if one more thing on her plate wouldn’t break her, as if she wasn’t about to crumple under the weight of her responsibilities, as if she hadn’t forgotten that her husband would be gone to a medical conference for the next two days. “Can you help me get Charlotte ready?” she said, filling the sink with water and tossing the wipes into the toilet before remembering they weren’t flushable.

“Sorry, hon,” Will said. “I can’t this morning. I have an eight o’clock patient scheduled.”

Maria paused for two seconds, time she didn’t have to spare, amazed at how effortlessly her husband could pawn off the responsibility of their kids onto her. Was this the nature of all men?

“I have an eight o’clock patient, too,” she said, but Will was too smart to follow her down that road. It was an ill-fated path. So instead of reminding her that his eight o’clock patient was sitting in the operating room with a team of medical staff who were all anticipating his arrival, whereas her eight o’clock patient was sitting in a cozy waiting room with music and coffee—maybe even doughnuts if her secretary had thought to pick some up—he leaned down and kissed her belly.


They both turned at the same time to see their five-year-old standing in the doorway, pointing toward the sink, where Maria was dipping her little sister’s backside into the water.

“I’m not brushing my teeth there.”

Will laughed and leaned over to land a kiss on Charlotte’s head before he walked out the door. “I don’t blame you, baby.”

“Not helpful,” Maria called out to him as he disappeared down the hallway. She could hear him laughing as he descended the stairs and she felt the tension briefly lift from her chest. Her husband’s laughter always did that to her, eased her worries, though she still felt envious that he would get to drive to work in silence. Just once, she wanted to experience that. She wanted to know what it felt like to leave her husband behind to fight the battles she fought every morning.

Charlotte’s hair was a mess of tangles, and Maria didn’t realize she was talking about cutting it all off until her three-year-old offered to help. “I can cut really good,” Emily said, looking up at Maria with pleading eyes.

“I know you can, baby, but you’re not cutting your sister’s hair.”

Maria tossed the brush onto the counter and gathered Charlotte’s hair into a tangled mess that somewhat resembled a ponytail.

“Why not?” Emily whined.

“Because you’ll cut my ear off!” Charlotte screamed, covering her ears with her hands, backing away from her sister, and almost falling into the bathtub. “And then I’ll bleed to death!”

“Mommy, I won’t do that!” Emily was scrounging through the bathroom drawers in search of a pair of scissors, pulling out empty toothpaste tubes and broken headbands and long-lost hair bows, while Maria trailed behind her with the brush.

“Enough!” she yelled, slamming one of the drawers shut to get their attention. “No one’s cutting anyone’s hair. Or ears. Or anything else. We have to be out of this house in five minutes, so downstairs now.”

She caught Charlotte rolling her eyes before she turned off the light and wondered where a kindergartner would pick up that habit.

The dishes hadn’t been run the previous night, so Maria picked out two of the least filthy plastic bowls she could find and wiped them down with a damp paper towel before dropping them onto the counter. She was trying to remember the last time she’d been grocery shopping—the pantry shelves were almost barren—when Charlotte startled her from behind.

“Annabelle’s mommy makes her a proper breakfast every morning.”

“Is that so?” Maria could feel her eyes rolling, before she stopped herself halfway through. At least now she knew where her daughter picked it up.

“Yes,” Charlotte replied. “Eggs and bacon and toast. And always fruit.”

“Annabelle’s going to have cholesterol problems by the time she’s ten,” Maria mumbled, ripping open a package of Pop-Tarts and throwing one into each bowl before handing them to her daughters. “And I give you fruit. These are blueberry Pop-Tarts. Now go hop into the car and I’ll help buckle you up in just a minute.”

“But I need lunch, Mommy.” Charlotte spun around as she spoke, dropping her Pop-Tart onto the floor. Maria picked it up and brushed it off before placing it back in the bowl. The crumbs on the floor would have to wait until after work.

“There’s money in your lunch account, sweetie. Just get a school lunch today.”

“But there’s a field trip. Mrs. Nelson said to pack a lunch. And you need to sign the paper.”

“What?” Maria snatched Charlotte’s backpack off the kitchen counter and dug through the pile of loose papers and food wrappers and sweatshirts that hadn’t been cleaned out in weeks. “Why didn’t you tell me about this last night?”

“It’s in my take-home folder. You’re supposed to look in my take-home folder every night.”

The unsigned permission slip was at the front of a stack of neglected papers that must have been sent home daily for the past few weeks. It was decorated with sticky tabs and highlighter marks showing Maria exactly where her signature was required, along with a reminder stapled to the top, also colorfully highlighted, that the children would need a sack lunch.

She pulled the bread off the shelf in the refrigerator and mumbled a profanity under her breath that she hoped her daughters didn’t hear. There were only two pieces left, besides the end pieces, which she tossed into the garbage, and as she was slathering peanut butter across the bread, Charlotte gasped.

“Mommy! No peanut butter!”

Maria jumped, almost dropping the knife into the sink, and turned to her daughter. “I thought you liked peanut butter.”

“Jackson can’t have peanuts, so nobody can bring peanut butter for snack or lunch.”

Maria thought about all the boxes of peanut butter crackers she’d sent to school with Charlotte over the last few months and wondered where they all went. There was probably a letter in the take-home folder informing the parents about Jackson’s peanut allergy, and she expected Mrs. Nelson found her quite obnoxious. Or hopefully just oblivious. She could feel Charlotte’s eyes following her as she reached into the garbage and pulled out the end pieces of bread.

“I’m not eating that!” Charlotte screeched.

“They’re still in the bag,” Maria replied. “They haven’t touched anything in the garbage. They’re fine.”

“Ew!” Emily scrunched up her nose and looked at her sister. “You have to eat garbage.”

“I’m not eating that, Mommy!”

“I have nothing else.” Maria waved her hand up and down the length of the open refrigerator in front of them. “We’re almost on Empty here, sweetie. It’s this or nothing.”

“Nothing,” Charlotte said, with her hands crossed firmly across her chest.

“I can’t send you to school with nothing.” Maria held the two end pieces in one hand and rifled through the back of the refrigerator for something to put on them, eventually pulling out an old jar of jelly. She wondered if jelly ever expired. “Strawberry?”

By the time the trio made their way out the door, Maria was already fifteen minutes late for her first patient of the day and both of her daughters were mad at her about something, though she couldn’t remember what. She was too busy running through a checklist in her mind of what she needed to get done before the weekend: groceries, laundry, dishes, bills, and the baby who was due any day now. She couldn’t forget about him, and while she’d never been one to shy away from a challenge, she couldn’t even begin to imagine how she was going to pull this off.

Her husband had offered to hire a nanny to get the kids to and from school and to fix dinner for them on weeknights, maybe even run some laundry and straighten up the house. But what kind of a mother couldn’t do those things for her own children? Something would have to give. She couldn’t hold it together forever, and if she didn’t make some changes soon, Maria knew the dam was going to break and there’d be no salvaging what was waiting downstream.

Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Adlakha

My Interview with Sarah:


Sarah hi welcome to The Reading Frenzy. Your new novel sounds so interesting.
Please tell my readers a bit about it.

Hello and thank you so much for having me. My debut, SHE WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING, is about a thirty-nine-year-old woman, Maria, who is married with two children, another on the way, and is working as a psychiatrist. She is at the center of an investigation about a letter that one of her patients left for her before she committed suicide, when she wakes up one morning in her childhood home as her seventeen-year-old self. So, not only is she trying to convince everyone around her that she is not psychotic and that she has come back from the future – as well as trying to figure out how her situation relates to her previous patient – but she is also trying to get back to her family. In the midst of all this chaos, she realizes that she has been sent back for a very specific purpose, but she knows that if she fulfills this purpose, she may lose the chance to return to her family forever.

Praise from a peer is so important, especially for a debut author and I have to admit when I read this from a favorite author of mine I couldn’t wait to ask for an advanced reader’s copy.
"Book clubs rejoice! She Wouldn't Change a Thing is your next selection.
It b
egins as devastatingly realistic, and evolves into simply… devastating. Haunting, thought-provoking, and endlessly discussable, this touching and evocative book will linger long after you close the final page. What would you do with a second chance at your life? Are you sure?  Read this – – and then decide."

--Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today Bestselling Author of HER PERFECT LIFE

And you are getting great advanced praise.
Does this make you more or less nervous for it to get in the hands of the reading public?

Well, now that you mention it, maybe I should be a little more nervous. This has been such a fantastic journey for me, and I’ve been so fortunate to have some truly amazing authors supporting me on it. I was over the moon excited to get that praise from Hank Phillippi Ryan. It’s definitely a surreal experience when you read a review from an author you admire who has read your book and actually liked it. Especially as a debut author, although I imagine that feeling doesn’t get old. I am nervous for it to get into the hands of the reading public, but strangely enough, I think I’m most nervous about my close friends and family reading it. I’m not sure why, but there’s something so personal about writing, even if it’s fiction. It’s almost like a window into your psyche.


How many of us look back and wish we’d have done something different, but you give your protagonist that very gift/curse, a second chance.
How did this concept for your novel come about?

The idea of coming back in time and no one believing the story came from my time as a psychiatrist. I remember interviewing one patient in particular who was suffering from psychosis and was upset that no one believed the story he’d been telling, and I thought, what if he’s telling the truth? Imagine how frustrating it would be if you’d been through something phenomenal, but no one believed you. And then I took it a step further. I took the concept of second chances, which I think most people consider fun and exciting, and I spun it in a different light. How would it really feel to wake up as your teenage self? And what I felt when I tried to put myself in that situation was sheer panic. I would want my life back – my husband and my children and my home – and I would do just about anything to get it.

They say write what you know and you apparently did since this is being called a  “complex, intelligent, psychological thriller” by author Serena Burdick
Do you think being a Psychiatrist helped you with the character and story development?

Absolutely. I wouldn’t have been able to craft this novel without my experiences as a psychiatrist. I really took the write what you know mantra to heart with this one. It was nice, especially for my first novel, to not have to do any research. I was easily able to get into my main character’s mind and understand firsthand what it might feel like to be in her situation. The only thing I had to research for this novel was how to perform hypnosis. I’m dying to try it on someone, but so far no takers.

I’m sure as a practicing Psychiatrist you did some writing for medical texts, journals etc..
How did writing fiction compare to writing non-fiction?

It’s a completely different animal. Writing medical text is all about being concise and straightforward. However, I do remember one time when I was a psychiatry resident at the University of Iowa, working an overnight shift, and writing an admission note that got some praise from one of the nurses. I wasn’t particularly busy that night, so I took my time with the note, and when the nurse read it, he said it was the most well-written admission note he’d ever read. That’s when I knew I was spending way too much time on documentation. Nobody wants to open a medical chart and read a book.

Your bio says you retired from Psychiatry (did you find the fountain of youth because you look way to young to retire) and that your dream job was to be able to write.
Did you retire to write or was becoming an author more accidental than intentional?

Writing was definitely accidental. I wasn’t planning to retire. I was really just taking a break to spend some time with my kids, since I was a working mom throughout their infancy and young childhood years. But by the time I was able to take that break, they were starting school, and I was just sitting at home during the day with nothing to do. I was about to go back to work, but my husband encouraged me to just take some time to myself before I dove back into the stress of my practice, so I decided to write a book. It wasn’t something I had planned on publishing, but, again, with my husband’s encouragement, I sent it off to my (now) agent, and now I’m here. I think that makes it sound like everything just fell right into place, but there was a lot that went on between submitting it to my agent and getting it out into the world. I could probably write a separate book about that – and not a very interesting one.

I guess of all the medical doctors I can see how a Psychiatrist could jump from reality to well not, while writing fiction.
Your book has been labeled Magic Realism.
Do you like and agree with that label?

She Wouldn’t Change a Thing has been labeled so many different things that I’ve learned to just accept them all, even the ones I struggled with at the beginning. Part of the problem is that the book crosses so many genres, it’s difficult to categorize. But Magic Realism sounds pretty accurate. There is the magic of time travel, or in this case repeating a certain part of your life. But, for the most part, it’s a realistic story. It doesn’t have a strong Sci-Fi flavor to it because it’s mostly about Maria’s (the main character) reaction to that magical situation. It’s a realistic portrayal of how someone might respond to being sent back to a certain time in her life.

Sarah thank you so much for letting me pick your brain.
Now that book one is put to bed are you writing another novel?

Thank you so much for having me. And, yes, I’m currently working on edits for book two. It’s similar to She Wouldn’t Change a Thing in that it also deals with repeating a part of life. It’s the story of George who is a character from the first book. He was part of the American Expeditionary Forces sent to France during World War I, and in this story, the Germans win the war. So it’s an alternate timeline as well as a time travel story.

Will you be attending any either online or in person book events?

My pub day launch will be at a local indie bookstore here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so I’m really excited about that. This is what I have on the schedule so far:

1)      August 10th 5pm-6pm CST - Pass Books signing

2)      August 11th 7pm-8pm EST - Scrawl Books in convo with Aggie Blum Thompson

3)      August 25th 6pm-7pm EST – Read the Room with Tor/Forge

4)      August 26th 7pm-8pm PST – Mysterious Galaxy


 My Review:

 She Wouldn’t Change a Thing

Sarah Adlakha


Wow pretty much expresses this unique, avant-garde debut novel, a real page turner that deals with time-travel, fate, karma and doing the right thing even if the cost is colossal. The story is told in two nonlinear timelines and even though readers are given insight into both they will often wonder to themselves what’s real. The audience will devour this book with its imaginative plot, flowing narrative, vivid scenes and unforgettable genuine characters. Maria is a well-developed character and the obvious star of the story but she has some really fantastic costars to help tell the tale. Fans of magical realism, time-travel and a can’t put it down it’s that interesting story will find this bound for the bestseller list, unputdownable. Plus they’ll find it hard to believe that this extremely talented storyteller has never written fiction before and hopes she writes more soon!

Maria Forssmann is a thirty-nine-year-old Psychiatrist, married mother of two and nine-months pregnant who receives a strange warning from a patient she thinks is suffering from psychosis that Maria should beware of her secretary. When that patient ends up committing suicide and Maria is visited by the police about it she decides to investigate the warning but instead wakes up inhabiting her seventeen-year-old self, in her childhood home with her parents not knowing how it happened. She’s pretty sure she’s not losing her mind but when she tries to remember she knows there are things missing but has retained most of the memories from her real life and now she’s just got to figure out how to get back there.

About the author:
Sarah Adlakha is a native of Chicago and a practicing psychiatrist who now lives along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi with her husband and their three daughters. She Wouldn't Change a Thing is her first novel.


  1. You always have such great interviews. Thanks for sharing.

    Melanie @ Books of My Heart

  2. That is so interesting, I wonder how it goes

  3. I enjoyed the interview. Sounds like it would be a good book.

  4. Okay, I sure want to read this - what a creative way to take a break from an intensive job. I am going to see if the library has it and if not well there are other sources!! Thanks for jumping and giving this book some air time.

  5. I love where she got the inspiration for the story..what if.