How To Be Brave
By Louise Beech
Published by Orenda Books (17 September 2015)
Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat where an ancestor survived for fifty days. Natalie struggles when nine-year-old daughter Rose is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and refuses her life-saving injections and blood tests. When they begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar they realise he has something for them - his diary. Only by using her imagination, newspaper clippings, letters and this diary will Natalie share the true story of Grandad Colin's survival at sea, and help her daughter cope with her illness and, indeed, survive.
Wow, it's been difficult to write a review for How To Be Brave as there's so much I want to say. To summarise though, I loved it from start to finish. It's beautifully written, heartwarming and passionate.
Natalie and her daughter Rose are having to come to terms with Rose's diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. The painful and time-consuming regime of blood glucose testing and insulin injections have a major impact on their lives. The author has experienced this emotional turmoil herself, so it's not surprising that the writing is sensitive, yet also informative. To add to their stress, Natalie's husband Jake can't get home from Afghanistan to be with his family.
This powerful story alone would give anyone a reason to read How To Be Brave, especially if they or a relative or friend has had to deal with a similar diagnosis. But on top of this, there's the story of Natalie's grandfather Colin, who was stranded on a lifeboat at sea for several weeks in 1943, after a U-boat attack. He and his comrades were starving, thirsty and convinced they were all going to die.
When Natalie and Rose find Colin's diary, they embark on a journey to remember. Not only does this enable them to learn more about Colin's fascinating experiences, but it helps them come to terms with Rose's future.
How To Be Brave is a book about hope, courage, acceptance and love. The two story strands overlap seamlessly and the book is exceptionally well planned and well executed.
I think this is an amazing debut.
I received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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