The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh
Publishing Date: 26th July 2018
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
‘Katie Marsh writes achingly beautiful, life-affirming stories that break your heart and refuel your hope’ – Miranda Dickinson. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Dillon and Amanda Prowse.
Alex Fox knows there are lots of thing she should be. She should be the perfect wife to her chronically ill husband Sam, and the perfect mother to their two daughters. She should be excelling in her high-stress job. And she should be completing the demanding to-do lists she makes to keep herself on track.
Even if, just sometimes, she doesn’t have time to breathe.
When Sam’s condition worsens and Alex donates a kidney to save his life, her carefully scheduled existence starts to unravel. The operation leads to unexpected complications, putting a strain on Alex’s marriage and her relationship with her children – and eventually forcing her to face up to a past that she has buried for years.
As the family she has fought so hard for threatens to fall apart, can Alex finally confront her imperfections and the mistakes that have shaped her – and rediscover what is most important in life?
The Rest of Me is an emotional and uplifting story which will make you laugh, cry and hug the people you love a little bit tighter.
“The Rest of Me” is Katie Marsh’s fourth offering – I have read all of her books and from the beginning have been championing them and Katie’s writing – she delivers my favourite kind of novels, she offers much more than a simple tale, her stories are always full of emotions and feelings and they tug at your heart – strings. They also always sound so very realistic, they’re genuine and close to life, and it was the same with Katie Marsh’s newest release. I simply adored it.
In “The Rest of Me” we are introduced to Alex Fox who has just donated a kidney to her husband Sam – he would have died otherwise. Alex expected to bounce back to her life almost immediately, however it turns out that it’s her now that needs medical help. Moreover, the operation didn’t bring Alex and Sam closer together, like Alex hoped, but problems and troubles seem to unravel. Add to this problems at work and with their two daughters and you are reading a complex, beautiful family drama.
The way the author writes about Alex, Sam and their family was incredible – I felt not like a part of their family, because they were such a close – knit unit, even with all their troubles, but I felt like the proverbial fly on the wall, seeing, hearing, observing, almost touching and, above all experiencing all their troubles, problems and the little joys with them. Seeing all those troubles piling on top of each other made my heart break and I couldn’t stop thinking, oh no, please not again, and I was hoping that everything will eventually turn around and good.
This book is not full of twists and turns, but it also doesn’t need it. It slowly peels off layer after layer laying bare the real life of our characters, bringing back important events from the past, allowing us to get to know the characters and why those past events were so important and significant, how they impacted on the present. The characters are very well developed. They’re not flawless, I so often found myself disagreeing with them, I wanted to shake them and tell them to open their eyes. The story is mostly told through Alex’s point of view, and she shares all her thoughts and feelings with us. I immediately fell for her and I kept everything crossed for her. We shared the same worries and problems. She was strong and she had a backbone, she noticed all the discriminations that came with the new boss but also during her interviews, and she was not afraid to speak loud about them, questioning them.
To be absolutely honest, for a long, long time I had a huge problem with Sam. Maybe because I was rooting so much for Alex, right from the very beginning? I mean, I didn’t begrudged him this kidney but after the transplant it seemed that everything turned upside down for Alex in any case: her health, her job, her self – esteem, while Sam was enjoying his life fully and totally and it seemed to me that while he was sick, Alex just devoted herself to looking after him and forgot about her own life, and as soon as he was feeling better he forgot about it and instead of looking after Alex he just enjoyed his life. I mean, it was his right, for the love of god, of course, but for me it just was as if he got what he wanted and well, Alex, your health, your life is your problem now. It took me long to see his side of things, so long that I’ve already started to panic what’s happening here and if I’m going to warm to him at all.
But I think that the voice that shook me so much was this of the young Izzy. Her character was so very well drawn, she was not too childish, she was not too mature for her age as it often happens, she was simply perfect with her love to Arsenal and football obsession. She tried so hard to be tough and strong and brave, she experienced so much, seeing things through her eyes was, I think, even more authentic and cruel – because she told what she really felt.
This story also deals with bullying. As a mum of a six – year – old girl who’s about to start school in September, this topic is so very close to my heart. It’s probably my biggest nightmare that one day she can be bullied or that she can be the bully – I don’t know how I’m going to cope if something like this happens. The way Katie Marsh tackled this subplot in this story was absolutely perfect and realistic, and to be totally honest, it has broken my heart. I don’t want to spoil the reading for you so I’m not going to say anything more but be prepared for having your heart broken, fixed and then broken again.
This book, and especially the last part of it, made me think so much, especially about the way I am around and with my daughter, and it taught me that I can’t take our together time for granted. So I, just like Alex, am going to spend as much time with her as possible – she’s just too precious.
Katie Marsh can put into words all the feelings and emotions that we feel but can’t express – how often we just don’t have time to sit down and listen, to talk, to open up. She doesn’t make the relationships in this story bed of roses but she makes them honest and raw. Simply, she captured all those feelings so well and the way Alex felt about her past and keeping it a secret gave me goose bumps – because it sounded so real, authentic and genuine. The writing somehow feels so very authentic and personal, I’m not sure why I had this feeling but I just felt like this, and the words used by Katie Marsh, her descriptions, they touched me deeply and tugged at my heart – strings.
It was a gorgeous novel about relationships, about sisterhood, friendship, marriage and family dynamics. About secrets that shouldn’t have been kept, about things that shouldn’t have happened. It wasn’t sad – it may sound like this but it is also incredibly uplifting and affirming and it makes your heart sing again in the end. I can’t recommend it highly enough!