Friday, August 26, 2016

Book Review: My Everything

By Becky Gulc

‘On the day Hannah is finally going to tell her husband she's leaving him, he has a stroke . . . and life changes in an instant.

Tom's only 32. Now he can't walk or cut up his own food, let alone use his phone or take her in his arms. And Hannah's trapped. She knows she has to care for her husband, the very same man she was ready to walk away from.

But with the time and fresh perspective he's been given, Tom re-evaluates his life, and becomes determined to save his marriage. Can he once again become the man his wife fell in love with, or has he left it too late?’
(Courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.)

I was intrigued by the concept of My Everything. Hannah has made the difficult decision to leave her husband and go and follow her dream of teaching in Tanzania. Yet just as she’s about to do so, Tom has a stroke. Hannah’s secret plans are then shelved and she feels more trapped than she perhaps ever has felt before. Can a truly horrific event and feeling compelled to stay with someone when you wanted to leave ever lead to anything other than resentment? I was interested to follow their stories and see.

The narrative of the story worked really well, switching between the present and key moments in the pair’s relationship from the past. I particularly enjoyed the chapters giving us insight into their past, lots of lovely moments and memories of their relationship building. Their relationships with key family members are also explored, with some difficult events covered.

What I would say is that I found it was certainly a book that grew in strength for me as it progressed, I only really warmed to the characters when, as a reader, I understood more about the history, about why Hannah was unhappy, as well as learnt of Tom’s perspective in it all. It took me a while to get into the book because I didn’t feel any warmth towards Hannah to begin with, as we were slowly introduced to their back-story, but looking back I appreciated this build-up. As a reader I didn’t feel Hannah fall in love with Tom even in the beginning, but I did feel Tom fall for Hannah, so I guess he had my loyalties until later on in the novel when I came to feel equally fond of both characters.

I enjoyed seeing the characters evolve, and their relationship evolve throughout the novel. The stroke itself and its impact was covered extremely well without being a depressing novel or overly medical in the descriptions. It’s very moving at times and a thought-provoking read. Overall I’d say this a great debut novel from Katie.

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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