Sunday, 19 June 2016

Review: The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle

The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle
Published by Hodder & Stoughton 2016 (Paperback)
312 Pages

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.
But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.
In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters she takes drastic action and leaves for Australia. With two fast-maturing daughters Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly discovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately.
With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?
Thoughts
I love discovering new authors and I also love reading books about families and how they can come together in times of desperate need. So I was in for a treat when I received an advance proof of The Hope Family Calendar. I'd never heard of the author, Mike Gayle before and from reading the synopsis I knew that it was going to be about family, which is what I wanted.
Tom Hope hasn't been the same ever since his wife, Laura died in a tragic car accident. He isn't the same man as he was before and he certainly isn't the same father to his two daughters, Evie and Lola. However, luckily for Tom he has his mother-in-law Linda to pick up the pieces and run the family home and look after the girls. When Tom gets arrested on the one year anniversary of Laura's death, Linda finally snaps and to help Tom reconcile with his daughters leaves for a six month trip to Australia to visit an old friend. Leaving Tom to look after the girls and accept his responsibility as a father. 
This book will definitely pull at your heartstrings a lot, well it certainly did for me. I would find myself tearing up or sniffling a few times when I was reading certain parts and it did certainly turn me into an emotional wreck. The main theme, I think, throughout the book is loss and grief and how we all deal with it in different ways. Having lost someone myself just over a year ago I could certainly relate to it. I feel that Mike really did his research into loosing someone close and it definitely showed through the reactions of the many characters. 
Family and how important they are is also a reoccurring topic throughout the 312 pages of the book. It shows you how crucial family support is when going through a loss and how you all need to stick together. Linda, I felt showed this the most as she was the one that was looking after Evie and Lola and trying to keep the family from breaking. Yes, she did leave them, but that was to help Tom finally figure out his responsibilities and start taking action for himself. Linda, in my opinion was the strongest character in the book. Everything she did was for her family and to help keep them close and to stop them breaking apart. All her decisions helped the Hope family one way or another. I also feel that come the end of the story Tom also realised how important family was. His character development was second to none and I loved watching him grow from this man who didn't know how to deal with his loss to this family man who made every matter count. Yes, he hit bumps along the way but this just made it more realistic and relatable. 
All in all, The Hope Family Calendar was a heartwrenching, but also heartwarming read. It goes to show that no matter how bad things can get you will always get through them with the love and support of family. I most certainly will be looking up more of Mike Gayle's work as judging by this read I have been missing out.
Rating

Author Bio
Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology Mike moved to London with ambitions of becoming a music journalist. This didn't happen however and following a slight detour in his five-year plan he ended up as an agony uncle for teenage girls' magazine Bliss before becoming Features Editor on the now much missed Just Seventeen. Since those early days Mike has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Cosmopolitan.
Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by The Independent as 'Full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,' and by The Times as 'A funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic.'
To date Mike is the author of twelve novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and Wish You Were Here. His books have been translated into over thirty languages.
After stints in Manchester and London Mike now lives in Birmingham with his wife, kids, two sheds and a rabbit.

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