How to be Brave by Louise Beech

I received this book from . 

Uplifting and Compelling     

My rating:  5 out of 5     


Rose, aged 9, collapses and Diabetes 1 is diagnosed.  Rose’s great-grandfather is adrift on the AtlanticHow to be Brave ocean.  This is an uplifting book about how what is important in life and survival through exceptionally hard times.

This brilliant book commences with the diagnosis of Rose, and her mother’s struggle to cope with the medical regime alone.  She needs help, as does Rose, and they find it in the amazing story of Rose’s great grandfather (Colin) stranded in a lifeboat, in the South Atlantic back in 1943.  All 3 main characters are struggling to survive, and their stories have many parallels.   These 3 characters, and the others (though there are not many in the story), are wonderfully portrayed drawing the reader into their lives, thoughts and hopes, and the realisation that it is ok to ask for help.

The boat that Colin Armitage jumped from was the SS Lulworth Hill, and there is plenty on the internet about his part of this story, but do read the book before you look it up so as not to ruin the story.  Much of the book is true (the author’s daughter was diagnosed with Diabetes, and Colin is the author’s grandfather), and some of it is fiction.  “In the end all you can do is believe the parts that sound right to you” as Rose says in the book.

The descriptions of coming to terms with a Diabetes 1 are very moving, and the narration about the tests and injections stirring.   Meanwhile the struggle for survival in the lifeboat is shocking, compelling and emotional.  Yet through these two terrible struggles the author portrays positivity and warmth.

For the tourist this is a book that will take away any stresses of travel;  it is so engrossing you will find any journey whizzes by as you avidly turn the pages.  A fantastic holiday read, and equally good for snuggling down in the safety of your sofa whilst you escape to the turbulent Atlantic seas,

I loved this book!  The mix of fact, fiction and memoir were perfect, and the stories of lives intertwined were gripping from the first page to the last.  There were few characters, so easy to follow, and those characters were very skilfully portrayed.  Despite the subject matter it was an uplifting book overall, though the hardship both on the lifeboat, and in getting accustomed to diabetes are clearly portrayed.  Hope shines through.

With no sex or violence, though there are moments of anger, this book is suitable for all the family.

See also:

The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech

Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

I am Dust by Louise Beech

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