Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

 

cover155084-mediumPublisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 13th June 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

| Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The incredibly moving and uplifting new novel from the author of The Man I Think I Know.

Kerry Hayes knows exactly who she is: a single mum, a cleaner and Mariah Carey’s biggest fan.

Noah Martineau thinks he knows who he is: a successful barrister, with a wife, daughter and big house in Primrose Hill.

Strangers with nothing in common.
Strangers living worlds apart.

But it wasn’t always this way…and Noah and Kerry are about to discover just who they really are.

Rating: five-stars

 

Kerry is a hardworking single mother, raising her beloved son Kian. Life for her has never been easy. She was put into care as a child and changed foster families like you change your gloves, ending up in a home. Getting pregnant after few years of reckless and dangerous living made Kerry change her perspectives. She was determined to give her son the loving, stable home she has never had, even if his father is not interested in him. The only other person that Kerry has loved as much as her son was her little brother Jason, taken into care and then being adopted. Unable to find him, Kerry started to write letters to him via adoption agency. However, Jason is now Noah Martineau, adopted into a white middle class family, and he has been given any opportunity that he cleverly took the chance. He’s a barrister with his own perfect family, or at least it looks like this, and he actually never wanted to know about his previous life. So when a litter from Kerry arrives, he couldn’t be more than surprised. Will he get in touch with his sister? He has no idea that for Kerry it may be the matter of life and death.

In this character – driven novel the characterisation is absolutely perfect. It is told from Kerry and Noah’s perspectives, and they both have distinctive, strong voices. The way they tell their story makes you quickly immersed and engaged in their lives and I immediately found myself rooting for them both, sitting at the edge of my seat and biting my nails. Kerry was absolutely brilliant, down – to – earth, realistic characters, who, despite life not being a garden full of roses, didn’t lose her sparkle, her love to colours and Mariah Carey. Noah was great, clever and realistic, and there so much to him that you could think at first.
Watching their relationship develop was like an emotional rollercoaster ride, with all its ups and downs, so incredibly uplifting but also sad, as there were so many challenges thrown under their feet. It was moving, it was poignant and it simply felt SO. REAL.

It was absolutely Mike Gayle at his best – he’s back in the best form ever and “Half a World Away” only shows his real talent. It is a book that’s going to pull you in immediately from the start, a story that’s going to break your heart and give you tons of hope. It’s emotional, it’s full of feelings, heart and soul, it’s bitter – sweet, raw and honest, brilliantly written and touching family saga with a difference.
It was a beautiful, tugging at the heart – strings but also not too wishy – washy and overdone story about family dynamics, about choices, letting go and learning to hold on. The author touched upon many difficult issues but he does it with easy humour and gentleness, and this plus the great characterisation made me feel a part of this story. Mike Gayle is a great observer of a human nature and he can effortlessly and eloquently put his observations into words. Actually, guys, you should simply treat yourself and read it the book asap. Highly recommended!

 

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The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

 

37823400Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 19th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 29.11.2018)

 

 

Synopsis:

Whatever happens to those kids at school who are always being tipped to be stars in adult life?

It’s a question all of us find ourselves asking at some time and Mike Gayle’s powerful, poignant novel answers it with regard to Danny Morgan and James McManus – rivals for top honours in everything throughout their school years in Birmingham.

Whatever their friends and teachers might have expected, neither Danny nor James is currently running the country.

Depressed and unemployed, Danny is facing an ultimatum from his girlfriend Maya: if he doesn’t get out and get a job, she’s leaving.

It was an accident that changed James’s life and now he is looked after affectionately by his parents. But his sister Martha believes that the role of full-time carers is destroying their lives – and infantilising her brother.

She suggests that James should go into a respite home while her parents take a break.

The respite home, as it turns out, where Danny has just got a job.

What is the path that has brought these two people to this unexpected place, and where will it take them next?

This is the story of Danny and James, but also of the families who love them and of the women they love. It is a story of many surprising twists, by turns funny and sad, painful and uplifting, and marks a brilliant new stage in the writing career of one of Britain’s favourite novelists.

Rating: five-stars

Having been a great fan of Mike Gayle since reading his first novel “My Legendary Girlfriend” I am always impatiently waiting for his new release. This time he let us wait long but it was worth the wait, as I think that “The Man I Think I Know” must be his best novel yet. Mike Gayle has always been a champion of writing about relationships but this time he’s opted for a different one, this of a friendship, and still he pulled it off completely, delivering a fantastic, emotional and realistic story. I had a feeling that few of Mike Gayle’s last books were a little different in tone but this book seems like a new direction – it’s mature, it’s powerful yet it still reads like other books by this author.

Mike Gayle’s writing style stays the same – it’s full of humour but also down to earth, chatty and easy to follow. His characters are always brilliantly developed and it’s the same here with Danny and James, as well as the other background characters. The friendship described in this story sounds realistic and true, both characters are genuine in what they’re doing and how they communicate. They are believable. They made mistakes, they’re not perfect, they have better and worse moments which only made them more true to life.
It is also one of the most unlikely friendships taking into consideration all the circumstances: how Danny and James got to know each other and how they met again after all those years. The story is told in alternative point of views and it was a great way to tell it. With their stories, they just pull you in deeper and deeper and I quickly found myself falling for them both and found both stories incredibly interesting and captivating. I was waiting for the big reveal and when it came I didn’t feel disappointed, like it often happens when you’re waiting for something holding your breath and then it feels so meh. No, it lived up to my expectations and the only thing that bothered me a little and left me a bit disappointed was the ending, guys, I’d love a little bit more, but it was the only thing, other than that I loved this story.

The things the characters are forced to deal with, those many things in their lives are true to life, and the way they’re dealt with is realistic, relatable and believable. The author offers also a very deep and detailed insight into a life with ABI – acquired brain injury and I loved the way it was dealt with, with tons of understanding and subtlety but without pitying. With his words, he touches upon the right heart – strings.

“The Man I Think I Know” is a book about second chances and personal growths. It’s heart – warming and uplifting, as well as poignant and moving. I drank this story in with my whole being, I didn’t want to miss a single word. A bittersweet, realistic tale about family dynamics, love and second chances with enough drama, fun and charming romance that I highly, highly recommend!

The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle

The Hope Family Calendar

by Mike Gayle

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 16th June 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher thank you!.

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 20.10.2016)

 

 Synopsis:

Tom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn’t been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.

But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife’s death is the last straw for Linda.

In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters she takes drastic action and leaves for Australia. With two fast-maturing daughters Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly dicovered world of single fatherhood – starting immediately.

With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?

Rating: 5/5

 

As a huge Mike Gayle’s fan I am always over the moon when I hear that he’s going to release a new book. I’ve read all of his novels and I’ve quickly fell in love with the author’s writing style, his bittersweet but also down – to – earth and so close to life stories, and from the very first book that I’ve read I admired the author’s ability to get so well into the characters’ heads and draw them in such a way that they just get under your skin – and it was the same with „The Hope Family Calendar”. It is not a sad, depressing story, even though there are elements of sadness to it, but it shows – sometimes in an ironic and funny way – how the whole family copes with death of someone beloved. A story about pain and hurt, about a parent „finding” his children anew, about an older woman trying to move on with her life, I would go that far and say that it is Mike Gayle’s best book yet.

I think that what make me to like Mike Gayle’s books so much is the fact that he can „do” emotions and feeling so very well. The way he describes them is so realistic and he never beats around the bush, he writes as it is and his characters have often broken hearts, they suffer, they love and hate and the way he delivers this is so very honest and genuine. And it is the same in his latest release. The author brilliantly captures the feelings of all the characters, of Tom, of Linda and of Tom’s two daughters. Tom Hope’s wife dies in a car accident and he’s suddenly left with two growing daughters. His mother – in – law, Linda, moves in with him to take care of the girls but after a year she sees that she needs to take more radical actions and Tom must eventually face up to his responsibilities and not escape all the time to work, so she goes to visit her best friend in Australia for half a year. What follows is Tom’s journey with all its ups and downs in discovering fatherhood, school – runs, daughters with problems… a journey of failures but also triumphs and struggling with life as a full – time father.

„The Hope Family Calendar” has a funny and a sad side and it made me laugh and cry. It was a beautiful, very close to life story, written in a very realistic way. What I really liked was the fact that every once in a while the author, so oh very casually, dropped a line here or there that made me wonder, a hint suggesting that maybe not everything was as straightforward as I thought, but it was one line, a very quick suggestion and nothing more, though throughout the course of the book there were a few of those hints that eventually started to unfold and led to an unexpected twist at the end of the book.

The book is told from Tom and Linda’s points of view and I really liked that Mike Gayle let Linda tell her side of the story as well. It was great in fact to see how those two, Tom and Linda, thought they are doing the best and how their visions of this best varied, but it was great that they both had a chance to tell their minds. I think I understood Tom, he was grieving and flinging himself into work was his way of coping, but I also truly understood Linda who had only the girls’ weal on her mind and decided to take more radical steps, decide that it’s time for the wake – up call, until it’s not too late. I like that the story was not only white and black, that there were some shades of gray in there which made the reading really captivating and interesting and I loved seeing both sides to this story.

One of the author’s strength is the way he creates his characters. They are always believable, living and breathing people, and no matter if they are main or background characters, there is always a depth to them and they are brilliantly developed – and the same happened in „The Hope Family Calendar”. The characters here are neither flawless nor perfect, they have better and worse days, they’re not always sincere and they have some secrets but this all make them feel even more realistic.

„The Hope Family Calendar” was emotional, beautiful read, full of real feelings and emotions and I enjoyed every single moment of this book. I really think it is Mike Gayle’s best book at the moment. It’s truly so that this story is different to his previous books, it has a lot more depth to it. It concentrates on a family already, and not on girlfriends/boyfriends, new relationships and parties, and is yet so similar in tone and writing style. This book is on a very different level of storytelling and plot development which makes it really exceptional and it features some more serious elements, such as grieving, acceptance and finally coming back to life and it is as if Mike Gayle has been waiting for the right time to write such a story. Well, in my opinion he absolutely delivered and I can’t recommend this book highly enough!