Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; Paperback Original edition (9 Feb. 2017)
Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world.
Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.
Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. So has Tom. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts.
OMG! OMG! Wow wow wow!! I was sent a review copy of this book in the summer and decided to wait until closer to it’s release before I read it. And I decided to make this the first book I read in 2017. I’m really really pleased I did, but at the same time I am really disappointed I did. Why? It has set the bar so high already, I don’t think any other book I read this year will come close.
The story is based around the true story of Alice Martineau who passed away in 2003, aged 30. Alice was a singer who had just released her first album Daydreams – she also had Cystic Fibrosis.
The story is narrated from 3 different perspectives, although the main voice is Alice’s. Her mum (Mary) narrates short chapters through diary entries – written in Italics. Tom’s viewpoint is given from the voice of the omniscient narrator. In Alice’s narration, we are also given insight in to her thoughts (in Italics in the text). This tri-viewpoint gives a really good insight in to the story, not just from Alice’s point of view but from the point of view of loved ones living with and looking after someone with an invisible condition – Alice’s mum has no choice but to be there for her daughter and Tom wrestles with his feelings as he has chosen to be with Alice and has fallen in love with someone with a terminal illness. Both must be difficult situations to be in.
Knowing that Alice has CF and her life expectancy is short, I was braced for some tears and some sadness and there were several parts in the first half of the story where I could feel my eyes filling up. But then, the story gripped me and at times I was so wrapped up in her love story and her ambition to get a record deal that I forgot that she could die at any point – so when her CF comes back in to the forefront of the story, which it does at regular intervals, it kept taking me by surprise.
The story really isn’t all about a girl with CF who is trapped in a hospital bed and hoping for love and hoping for a cure. Alice’s dream is different. Her story is different. She lives her life – in the Author’s own words “This isn’t a book about someone dying. It is, I believe, about someone truly exceptional, living“.
The friendships and relationship Alice has are really fantastic – the kind of close friendships and family everyone wishes they had.
I had tears rolling down my cheeks for the last 100 pages of the book – and there were several points in the last 100 pages that I put my hand to my mouth to contain the sob or to muffle my “no”!
At the end of the story, I put the book down and cried (and cried and cried) for a good 10 minutes. After the story, there are short write ups from the author (Alice Peterson), Alice Martineau’s brother (Luke), and Oli Lewington who had a double lung transplant in 2007 giving the reader an insight in to Alice and her life, why Alice Peterson chose to tell her story and why it’s important these stories are told, and heard. When I went back to read these extra components of the story, I cried again. If you’ve read my blog reviews before, you will know that I cry at quite a lot of books (most books) but never has a book made me cry as much as this one!
Please don’t be put off by the medical angle or the fact it is a sad story, or based on a true story. READ THIS!!! I wouldn’t recommend it as a nice, light, breezy holiday read – unless you want to ugly cry on your sun bed – but it is perfect for cosying up on the sofa on a long winter’s night.
If you read nothing else this year, please read this book! You won’t regret it! I didn’t know anything about Alice Martineau when I opened this book but now I want to know more about this incredible woman.
Check out Alice’s music on Amazon, Spotify or Apple Music.
On Alice Peterson’s website – alicepeterson.co.uk – there is a link to Alice, her music and other bits and bobs.