Shrieks pierce my chest. I move quickly and lift you from your crib. We settle in the nursing chair.
The aching weight of you sags my arms. Silence cloaks the witching hour. We’re a raft lost at sea, a flame floating on an ocean of black. You latch on while I sing a lullaby so low it’s barely a whisper. Your head has an earthy heaviness.
Your hot milky smell, as delicate as a moth’s wing, envelopes us. Protects us. My eyes droop, my bones ache, but I hold on, still as the moon, wanting to keep this moment forever.
There are twelve of us sat around table which dominates the small wood-panelled room. It is covered in a thick red velvet cloth. Heavy curtains block the watery twilight. At the centre, a huge crystal bowl holds our belongings – a watch, a wedding band, a pendant …
Why is it always jewellery?
I clasp the strangers hands next to me. One a huge, sweating palm, the other a thin, liver-spotted claw, like dried out paper.
I concentrate hard on the military medal I have offered, wishing with all my bones that he will speak to me.
I have really missed taking part in the Friday Fictioneers the past few weeks but life got in the way. It’s good to be back.
If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her
sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.
If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered
the love of his life’s heart’
But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.
I stayed up way past my bedtime last night to finish this book. I just couldn’t put it down.
The characters Cooper creates jump off the page at you. They are complex, each dealing with their own issues and struggles, and they are loveable. Melody’s condition of singing when she is anxious or stressed creates some laugh-out-loud moments, a lot of the time involving embarrassing her children, like being wrestled off a train whilst singing her own version of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. But they find a way to deal with it and even use it to their advantage at times, creating comedy moments;
I try to put a mentally unstable expression on my face, then realise after my tribute to Prince, it’s not really necessary.
But there are also some truly heart-wrenching moments, involving Sinéad O’Connor and Kate Bush (I love Kate Bush). You will need a box tissues when reading!
Cooper’s writing style is so descriptive and there are moments of pure beauty, capturing not only the setting but the deep feelings of the character. A balloon-ride scene sticks in my mind:
Above us, the patchwork sky is wakening and as we finally climb into the basket, the sun gas arched its back.One of my favourite things about the book is the relationship between Melody and her children. They argue and get on each other’s nerves but their bond is fiercely strong. They would do anything for each other.
Above all, this book is about family and how precious our loved ones are. Melody, Flynn, Rose and Tom will stay with me for a very long time.
Old Mrs Bergman’s roses were the envy of the village. The bushes bloomed in a congregation of scarlet and coral, sun-flare yellow and delicious tangerine. They spilled over the walls and lit up the pavement with their scattered petals, like delicate wishes skipping along the breeze, destination unknown.
Mrs Bergman plucked and preened, watered and fed. She whispered sweet nothings. She told the roses all that she would have told him if he were here. And they bloomed.
At night she would take the fading telegram from the drawer: Missing in action.
Clodagh lay on the soft grass looking up at the decorative webbing that formed a roof between the trees. It was such a good idea of Noal’s to have a New Year’s Eve party here. Her idea for fancy dress was even better. It had been epic.
She turned to look at the mysterious angel laying next to her. He wasn’t from her school. His wings were magnificent. How did he make them?
When he kissed her at midnight she’d soared.
His bright eyes opened, his wings fluttered and wrapped around her, pulling her close.
Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door. And just like that, Maddy realizes there’s more to life than just being alive. You only get one chance at first love. And Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.
This is a joint review by me and one of my pupils, Jasmine, who is 16 and has been unable to go outside for the last five years. I teach her at home. As you can imagine Jasmine has a unique perspective when it comes to relating to this story.
First off, Jasmine thought it was a great book, if a little cheesy. I loved the book and steamed through it.
The premise of the book is an interesting one and something that people should probably talk about more. There are many young people out there suffering in similar situations, and they go unnoticed. But this is a story about hope, about taking chances, about a life that is worth living.
We agreed that the characters are all well fleshed out and interesting. Madeline’s (Maddy’s) mum is a strong woman who will do anything for her daughter. Carla the nurse is Maddy’s shoulder to cry on, she’s like a second mum, but a bit of a soft touch which Maddy uses to her advantage. When Olly comes into Maddy’s life her world is turned upside-down as she experiences love for the first time. Olly has his own issues with his family to deal with and him and Maddy almost cling to each other from the off. He is vibrant and fun and most importantly, he makes Maddy want more. She realises that a life trapped is not a life that she wants to live.
The pace is fast, the chapters are short, and you can wiz through it in a couple of hours. It picks up even more speed as the book draws to it’s shocking climax.
Jasmine and I both loved the layout. The notes, the IM’s, emails, letters and drawings all add to the world of Maddy and make it interesting. Jasmine particularly enjoyed the way Maddy observed the neighbours and made logs. She said you learn how to read people better when you’re restricted to observing people.
The only real criticism Jasmine had was that the hardships of being stuck inside the house could have been portrayed more. There is reference in the book to Maddy having an incident when she was eight, but we could probably expect more than one major incident or period of depression if you had lived your life inside for the last eighteen years, and in turn this made Maddy come across as slightly bland. Jasmine related to the birthday scene with a cake and a game and that’s it, but there was not enough reference to how hard this would be emotionally on Maddy, it only showed that her mum felt emotional on birthdays.
Overall, this is a great read and I would recommend it to anyone. It gives a valuable insight into the different lives that people are living and highlights the fact that these type of people need extra support, care and attention from the societies we live in.
‘I ALWAYS THOUGHT THE MOMENT YOU MET THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE WOULD BE MORE LIKE THE MOVIES . . .’
Henry Page is a film buff and a hopeless romantic. He’s waiting for that slo-mo, heart-palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s seen in the movies. So the last person he expects to fall in love with is Grace.
Grace Town is not your normal leading lady. She dresses in oversized men’s clothing, smells like she hasn’t washed in weeks and walks with a cane. She’s nobody’s idea of a dream girl, but Henry can’t stop thinking about her.
There’s something broken about Grace; a small part of her soul is cracked from the secrets in her past. Henry wants nothing more than to put her back together again, but will she let him?
John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this heartbreaking tale of bittersweet first love.
Have you ever read a book and thought, damn, I wish I had written that! That is how I feel about Our Chemical Hearts. Krystal Sutherland has done an amazing job creating the world of Henry Page, a teen who falls in love for the first time with the mysterious Grace Town. Henry learns the hard way that love doesn’t run smooth, and that his idea of love was just that, an idea. So what is this he’s feeling? A burning passion? A desire? An addiction? True love? Henry comes to learn that feelings and love are complicated, and not all broken things can be fixed.
I fell in love with all the characters in this book. Murray, the love-sick delusional Aussie-American, La (Lola), the feisty, caring, loyal lesbian friend and neighbour, Suds (Sadie), Henry’s delinquent, genius sister. Each character brings something magical to the story.
Our Chemical Hearts deals with themes of loss, grief, acceptance, redemption and of course, love. Or rather, the intense heartbreak that is love. Sutherland describes these feelings in a thousand different ways, each one more beautiful than the last. By the time I reached the climax I was a mess of emotion, my own heart being stretched to the limits alongside these characters who are now like friends, you know them so well. It is a YA triumph.
Note: The characters swear and have sex (not graphic) in this book. It fits with the characters and the themes but something you might need to consider for a younger reader.
Jasmine stood in the bathroom and studied her reflection. The strip lighting was stark but she thought she held up well. She smoothed over her black hair that was pulled into a perfect bun at the crown of her head. Leaning into the mirror she checked her make up closely; no lines of foundation visible, perfect wings and eyebrows on fleek. Her full lips looked so kissable in her new red lipstick that matched her shift dress.
The thought of the black lace beneath made her smile. Only three hours left on the make-up counter until he arrived.