How To Be Brave (Louise Beech)

26760127When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.

Maybe today a ship.

At first, I thought this was going to be a story about a young girl dying. And no, I didn’t want to read that, thank you. I hate stories about diseases and I try to avoid them at all costs. But I was so wrong, this isn’t like that at all. How To Be Brave was a beautiful and poignant story and above all: an empowering tale about the relationship between a mother and her daughter.

Rose has just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and her mother Natalie doesn’t know what to do. Rose is angry and difficult all the time and is pushing her mother away. What can she do to make things easier for her? When they come across a mysterious diary of her grandad, Natalie she knows she has found a way to help Rose cope with her condition. And the story will captivate them more than they could possibly imagine.

“You always need two, you know. One of you to be sad and one of you to be happy, and then you’ll both be brave together”.

This is one of those rare times where the present story was as interesting to me as the past one. Kudos to the writer, Louise Beech, for creating such wonderful and unforgettable characters. Rose could be annoying sometimes, but you couldn’t help but feel for her and her mother. Who would want to be in that situation? Their relationship was so moving and realistic (with Rose’s cursing and irritation) and I loved how they finally managed to meet halfway thanks to a wonderful story.

The story from Colin’s diary was gripping and emotional. Sure, it had its tragic moments, but it was all so beautifully written that I didn’t mind one bit. I captured many quotes while I was reading, which is something I hadn’t done in a very long time. That must mean something, right?

“But she didn’t belong to me; she belonged to the sea and the sky and the past and her future.”

The only thing which I didn’t like that much was that the ending felt kind of sudden. I was like: “Is that it?”, so I guess it didn’t feel like a proper ending to me and I wanted to know more about Rose, Natalie (and Jake) and, of course, Colin.

A wonderful and touching novel that everyone should read. An original book that is both inspiring and important. Just remember: the power of good stories is undeniable and can save us when we most need it.

“All those stories died that morning. Until we found the one we’d always known.”

Orenda Books, 2016

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

23 thoughts on “How To Be Brave (Louise Beech)

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