The first thing I have to say about this book is it is hard to believe how entertaining a narrative can be when ‘spoken’ by a woman in a coma!
Sarah is in a coma, unable to communicate at all, lying in her bed listening, in part to the conversation going on around her. Her mother and her father visit and we can tell so much about them through their snippets of conversation. Likewise the nurses, some are more solicitous than others but the real mystery is, how did Sarah end up lying there, in that state? Sarah was mugged, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time that’s what everyone says.
We first meet Kelly sat waiting for her mother in the relatives room on the night that Sarah is admitted. Her mother has gone to check on her younger brother and she sits, observing the other inhabitants of the waiting room. Kelly is a teenage girl who has been befriended by Sarah, a young woman closer in age to her mother than Kelly. From Kelly we know that Sarah has been giving her tips on how to stay out of trouble, and it seems to be working… or is it?
This is a really hard book to review, so much of what I want to say will reveal the story that it is far better you explore for yourself. What I can say is it is far more moving, and less dramatic, than many books that fall into this genre. This is psychological fiction at its purest a book that reveals the secrets behind many of our characters, how they relate to others, how they present themselves to the wider world and what other people really see them for.
The other side to this book is it is scary! No-one wants to be in such a vulnerable position and Sarah is in a state where she longs to break out of her coma and communicate with those around her. She wants to know who she is, how she got there and who some of her visitors are. This isn’t an enviable place to be especially when some of what she hears causes her intense fear.
Deborah Bee has writes in an appealing style with alternate chapters narrated by Sarah and Kelly. Kelly spends many days at the hospital, coming to terms with her friend’s fragile state, yet shoved to one side when the family are in place, watching and waiting for any sign of movement whilst struggling with varying degrees of discomfort while speaking to someone who doesn’t respond at all.
This is a unique read, not quite what I expected but in many way so much better. I didn’t expect to feel so moved by both narrator’s lives and although I guessed some of the final outcome I was far from correct on many of the finer details.
I was offered my copy of The Last Thing I Remember from Midas PR who work on behalf of Twenty7 books, which if you haven’t heard before, are my favourite new publishers, I’ve now read four of their books and loved them all. It is good to see such talented debut novelists having a dedicated platform to launch from and from a reader’s perspective, all of these books have something unique to offer, a rare thing indeed in such a crowded genre.
The Last Thing I Remember was published on 25 February 2016 in eBook format with the paperback due out on 28 July 2016.