Thursday, 26 June 2014

Who Are You? - Elizabeth Forbes

About the book...
Alex, a career officer in an elite regiment, returns from Afghanistan a changed man. He has left the Army behind and is attempting to forge a civilian career as a security advisor. His wife, Juliet, is delighted. She, Alex and their son Ben now live in a well-appointed house in a leafy London suburb.

But all is not well. Juliet's research on the internet suggests that Alex is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but pride means that he will not seek professional help.

Finding solace in web forums, Juliet is offered the use of a cottage and is urged to remove Ben to a place of safety. After a lot of secretive planning and the financial support of Alex's mother who had suffered at the hands of her husband, Juliet and Ben escape the tyranny of their home with the hope of starting afresh...

About the author...
Elizabeth Forbes lives in Herefordshire with her husband, dogs and chickens. She studied with the Open University for a BA in Literature, graduating with First Class Honours.

My thoughts...
Firstly a huge thanks to Hattie and all at Cutting Edge Press for the ARC of Who Are You? I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, what a book! Where do I start?  Alex and Juliet are living, what on the surface is a reasonably 'normal' life for a couple embarking on life together after Alex left the forces. I think most of us, news reading people wouldn't expect this to be plain sailing given the reality of the conflicts in Afghanistan   Anybody who has served there is bound to be affected no matter how rounded a person they were beforehand. 

This book spares no punches, it was all consuming the characters and the scenario's so life like and real I felt genuine pain, hurt and distress at times.  At times I thought I couldn't read anymore and kept closing the book, then opening it and reading a bit more.  It was harrowing, yet compulsive.  I didn't want to read it yet I had to know what happened next. 

As you would expect it's not just a simple story about someone suffering with PTSD and how this impacts on their family.  Lizzie gave us two, deep, highly intelligent, lead characters who each had a story.  As ever events in childhood rear their head in adulthood.   The children we were definitely shape the adults we become.

This book is a like a game of cat and mouse, with the protagonist changing with each chapter.  My thoughts and feelings towards both Juliet and Alex changed more times than in any other book I've read.  I genuinely despised them both at times and at others felt such deep pain and concern it was weird.  When you live with someone for a long time you know what buttons to press to evoke a reaction, be that good or bad and both Alex and Juliet were experts - each knowing the others weak spot.

Life should be about discovering new things, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and trying different things.  I liked the synopsis for this book and really wanted to read it yet I sit here now a couple of weeks after finishing it and I'm still trying to process my thoughts. 


Would I recommend it? - absolutely.  It has to be one of the best written books I've read in a long time. It's darker than most of my friends would read, and when asked if I enjoyed it I'm almost hesitant to say yes, it feels wrong for so many reasons - anyone who has read it will know what I'm talking about. 

I'd urge anyone who enjoys a really good book, that'll make you think, is happy to be shifted outside of their comfort zone to give it a go.  It'll stay with you long after the final page but that's a good thing.  The best kind of book in my opinion is a book that makes you think, that keeps you guessing and Lizzie did this with panache.  There are several twists that had me virtually talking to myself, silently praying and almost too scared to read on in case I didn't like the outcome, I'm so glad I did.

Thank you Lizzie - I've found another new author :) Cutting Edge Press - the name says it all - I'm so glad I stumbled across you via Amanda Jennings.  Two powerful ladies that pack a punch.