Originally published: June 2018
Author: Brian Conaghan
Published by: Bloomsbury
Page count: 320
Reading dates: 7-9 July 2018
Star Rating: 5/5
Funny how no one ever uses the word ‘love’ when discussing my case. I do what I do because she’s my mum. That pure and that simple.
Bobby Seed is a 17-year-old boy who has the enormous burden of being the carer for his mum who has MS. We join his life as she is starting to get much worse and is essentially bed bound. Bobby has to feed her, wash her, help her to the toilet, try to sooth her pain and look after the house, all while trying to lead a normal teenage life and go to school.
He also cares for his 14-year-old brother Danny, who has learning difficulties. He doesn’t have many friends or do the normal teenage stuff boys do – all his time is taken up being the lynchpin that keeps his family together.
His school refers him to a young carers support group, Poztive, where Bobby meet Lou, an American boy whom he is immediately attracted to.
Then as his mum worsens she asks Bobby to give her the ultimate gift, to end her life for her.
I’d really been looking forward to reading this after hearing a friend gush about it on Twitter, and it didn’t disappoint. This is an amazing book – Conaghan writes convincingly as a 17-year-old boy – Bobby is a touching character. There is no sense of him ever complaining about his role (which would be completely understandable if he did!) but we do hear how difficult it is for him, especially knowing how it will get harder before she eventually dies. He hates her suffering and obviously loves her dearly. The pressure on him is immense and he has no one to share it with (except his friend Bel). Although this could be a depressing book the black humour between Bobby and his mum helps to keep the tone a bit lighter. I love all the film (The Breakfast Club & Grease!) and music references (The Wedding Presents, The Smiths & Ned’s Atomic Dustbin!).
I can’t imagine where her mind travels to, all I can hope is that it’s somewhere magical.
Bobby is an aspiring poet and his verse is dotted throughout the novel which adds something special to the prose.
The topics of a gay awakening and of assisted suicide are handled with sensitivity. The book conveys how devastating the decision to carry out such an act for a loved one is.
I’ve never read a book based around a carers role and as a child being a carer to a parent must be a huge burden. It’s a beautiful look at how far you’d go for the ones you love.
Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending a copy my way.
About the author:
Brian Conaghan was born in 1971. He was raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives and works as a teacher in Dublin. He is the author of The Boy Who Made It Rain and has a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow.
His second novel When Mr Dog Bites was shortlisted for both the 2015 Carnegie Medal and the Children’s Book Award Ireland, while his novel, The Bombs That Brought Us Together won the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award. In February 2017 his novel, We Come Apart, written in verse, and co-authored with multi award winner, Sarah Crossan was released.
Great review. I’ve not heard of this book but it sounds great.
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It really is. A young adult novel that’s appreciated by people as old as me!