26 Oct 2013



SOURCE: A GoodReads win.

Francis Wootton's first memory is of Kurt Cobain's death, and there have since been other hardships much closer to home. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection - and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who's at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual, and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.

Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.

There's the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn't reckoned on meeting Amber and finding a reason to tackle it all - the good, the bad, and everything in between - head on.

...... Inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Before): My first memory is of Kurt Cobain's death.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 177): Just as she was about to leave there was a ruckus on the stairs and the girls appeared in my doorway, looking like the Ghosts of Christmas future. Or a frightening version of what can happen when you approach middle age without dignity. At their time of age they should be wearing trouser suits and baking cakes, maybe spending their days penning hand-written letters of complaint to newspapers. Not drinking alcopops with crude straws in them.

MY THOUGHTS: A story all about relationships and most of all about first love. To define this as just another novel about cancer would be to do it a great disservice.

Set in my home county of Tyne and Wear and written by local author Matthew Crow In Bloom (his first novel for Young Adults though he has two books for adults under his belt) isn't always an easy read in that, yes, the spectre of teenage cancer is always there, ticking away like the proverbial time bomb. And yet painful as it may at times be it is also oh so funny and, oddly enough, life affirming.

Packed full of the most memorable characters. The author does a truly amazing job in getting into the head of Francis, in creating an altogether believable teenager who is at once intelligent (in a geeky kind of way) whilst, at the same time, immature and thus plagued by all the typical insecurities of boys his age - not to mention the additional ones of almost constant nausea, total hair loss and possible death.

But make no mistake this isn't a 'one man show'. The other supporting characters are just as unforgettable. The lesser featured of them written with just as much care, with as much attention to detail, as any of the major ones.

One of if not my favourite reads of 2013. Whilst aimed at the Young Adult market it isn't in any way dumbed down for teenage consumption and thus I'd recommend it as equally readable for the more mature reader.

Please note All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission.
In addition I would also urge that if you are reading this on any other page you contact the original blog owner/reviewer.


Kelly said...

I'm not sure this is one I'd ever pick up and read, but you've given us a beautiful review of it.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Wow, high praise! I'll look for it. The description reminded me a bit of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - which I read earlier this year.

Suko said...

This must be excellent if you praise it so highly. Wonderful review of In Bloom, Tracy.

Brian Joseph said...

Glad that you pointed out that this is not typical of other books with similar plots. I thin k that in order to make a book like this a cut above the rest the trick, as you allude to, is strong characters.

Nikki-ann said...

I've not heard of this one before, but it sounds good! :)

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I like the sound of this one so much, that I just had to check out the author Matthew Crow and he is definitely on my reading list now.

He has written another book called 'My Dearest Jonah' which I really have to read and the front cover carries a quote which indicates how highly rated his work is...

"Novelists who have been honing their craft for decades might justifiably begin to dislike him: sometimes writers are just born"

Looks like it's a roaring success for the 'Geordies', thanks for introducing his writing to me.


Naida said...

Wow, In Bloom sounds like a great one. How depressing is that memorable moment.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

This sounds like a powerful book! This is my first time hearing of it, but it has been added to my list. I know it will be a tough, but worthwhile read! Thanks for sharing!

Literary Feline said...

I like it when I come across a local author worth reading. This sounds like a wonderful book, Tracy.

It's good to hear it isn't "dumbed down for teenage consumption". Too many YA books I've read have that feel to them.

Lindsay said...

This sounds brilliant Tracy, I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Definitely one for my wish list.

Alexia561 said...

I think that the cancer diagnosis would scare a lot of readers off, but it sounds like a story well worth reading!