‘Take My Hand’ – Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Inspired by events in Montgomery in 1973, Take my Hand focuses on the story of Civil Townsend, a young nurse, who is determined to do her best to help those patients she is hired to help. Told in two time frames, we follow Civil as she brings about a landmark case.

In the past period, Civil is shocked when one of her first outreach cases involves giving contraceptive injections to two children. Children who have not even been kissed. Worried about the risks associated with an unlicensed injection, Civil takes it upon herself to make a difference and – sadly – her meddling comes to have monumental consequences for the girls and their family.

Following Civil through her work was troubling. It was clear that something awful was brewing, but I really wasn’t prepared for the revelation that Civil’s clinic was carrying out enforced sterilisations. Even more upsetting was learning that this had really happened!

This was a book that packed a powerful punch. While Civil may not have always acted in the way you might expect, her heart was in the right place and the impact her actions had cannot be underestimated.


Summer Reading

A short post for now…

Finally, it’s the summer holidays and this usually means I have plenty of reading time. However, this summer I am determined to devote some time and energy to resting with my family.

Rest assured, I will still be reading but our holiday plans mean I will not post individual reviews over the next few weeks. I’ll aim to complete a round-up of my summer reading instead.

Happy reading, wherever you are!

‘The Start of Me and You’ – Emery Lord

This is one of those feel-good romances that is just sweet enough.

Paige Hancock is pretty well-versed in The Look. She is used to everyone around her – apart from her friends – giving it to her when they realise Paige was the one whose boyfriend died a year ago.

I felt rather awful when I started reading this, because Paige had only been going out with Aaron for a couple of months before he died. I couldn’t understand how you’d let such an event define you in the way Paige does.

That minor gripe aside, Paige is determined to plan a way to move her life on. So, at the start of the new academic year she comes up with a plan to push herself to try new experiences.

I couldn’t help but think the activities she resolves to try were rather formulaic, but – of course – things wouldn’t be good to read about if they went exactly to plan.

We watch Paige grow in confidence, and her group of friends – old and new alike – were fun to watch. They had a close bond and seemed so mature in their approach, particularly with regard to support offered.

I spotted the romance a mile off and it was more about watching how Paige and her new love interest finally get to this stage. Books featured highly in the novel so it had definite appeal.

‘The Girl Who Saved Christmas’ – Matt Haig

The Girl Who Saved Christmas

Canongate Books have got themselves a Christmas hit in my opinion…who could resist this?

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy via NetGalley so have to admit to it feeling rather strange to be reading a book about Father Christmas in October. That oddness aside, I was entranced by this and the reaction of my six year old to it as we kept going for ‘just one more chapter’ at bedtime.

In this story, there is a lot to appeal to adults. Father Christmas is having a tough time of it, as the magic that allows him to do his job is running out; Elfhelm is under attack from trolls and there’s a very real chance that the impossible will happen and Christmas will have to be cancelled. Alongside these events, we see young Amelia Wishart – the girl who saved Christmas one year with her belief – struggling to maintain her hope as she is orphaned and taken to the workhouse under the eye of the deliciously nasty Mr Creeper.

Set against the backdrop of Victorian Britain, there’s knowing nods to Dickens’s writing and the writer himself actually turns up on a number of occasions to help things along.

For my son, there was a great blend of magical elements with slapstick humour and some hints of scariness, which combined perfectly to have him thoroughly engaged throughout our bedtime reading sessions.

While we both thoroughly enjoyed the story for quite different reasons, this is a charming Christmas story. Both of us were betting on exactly which of the characters we were introduced to in this novel might be the focus of next year’s instalment.