Title: Lifesaving for Beginners
Author: Ciara Geraghty
Publication date: September 27, 2012
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Length: 464 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
Kat Kavanagh is not in love. She has lots of friends, an ordinary job, and she never ever thinks about her past. This is Kat’s story. None of it is true.
Milo McIntyre loves his mam, the peanut-butter-and-banana muffins at the Funky Banana café, and the lifesaving class he does after school. He never thinks about his future, until the day it changes forever. This is Milo’s story. All of it is true.
And then there is the other story. The one with a twist of fate which somehow brings together a boy from Brighton and a woman in Dublin, and uncovers the truth once and for all. This is the story that’s just about to begin . . .
Ciara Geraghty’s books have been on my to-be-read list for quite a long time but I never actually got round to reading them. So when I received a copy of her fourth novel, Lifesaving for Beginners, I couldn’t wait to get started. But even though it sounded like something I would enjoy, I had no idea what to expect. All I can say is: three pages in I was already hooked and I’m not exaggerating when I say I loved this book from start to finish.
At the risk of sounding terribly morbid, I love the fact that Lifesaving for Beginners starts in such a dramatic way. A few pages in, two women are involved in a car crash in Ireland: Beth, a mother of four from Brighton and Kat, a thirty-nine year old writer from Dublin. Beth dies instantly, while Kat walks away without a scratch. The book tells the story of their families whose lives will never be the same again. Then, just when they think they’re starting to figure out how to move on and deal with the past, something comes along and once again, changes everything, bringing the two families together. The fact that the book starts with such tragic events means that you just cannot help being drawn to the story from the very beginning.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the fact that the story is told from two different perspectives. There are books where this type of narration doesn’t work and I’ve read a few books where it would have worked but the author didn’t really nail it but in this case, it works perfectly well. Half of the book is told from Kat’s point of view, and half from Milo’s (who is Beth’s 9-year-old son). The two different perspectives definitely make the book more diverse – not only do we hear the story from both families’ point of view at the same time but it’s really interesting to hear a 9-year-old boy’s and an adult’s take on things. Milo is by far my favourite character from the book – he’s just adorable and the way he’s dealing with the situation is very moving. I loved how after the tragedy he’s the one who becomes the adult in the family and makes more reasonable decisions than her sister Faith or anyone else. He’s the one who adds some humour to the story and whose childish innocence and witty remarks will put a smile on your face while there’s a tear in your eye.
Geraghty’s novel reminded me a little bit of Marian Keyes’ books: their writing style is different but they’re similar in the sense that both of them deal with serious and difficult issues in an optimistic, heart-warming and quite humorous way. Lifesaving for Beginners is without a doubt one of my favourite books this year and Ciara Geraghty soon became one of my favourite authors. It’s one of those books where you can’t wait to see how the story ends but at the same time, you just don’t want it to end. It’s a remarkable read that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon and I can’t recommend it enough. Trust me, it’ll blow you away.
“He knows he is driving too fast. Not over the speed limit. Never over the speed limit. But too fast for the way he feels. The tiredness. It’s in his bones. It has seeped into his blood. It’s in his fingers that are wrapped round the steering wheel of the truck. It’s in the weight of his head on his neck. He feels himself sagging. He straightens and slaps his face. He blinks, over and over, training his eyes on the road ahead. He’ll be home soon.”