Sunday, 7 June 2015

BALLS UP by Kate Aaron

BALLS UP by Kate Aaron
Pages:          310
Date:           June 6, 2015
Details:        No. 2 Blowing It
                   Copy received from author

The blurb:

Owen Barnes’s life is finally going the way he wants. He’s making a living as an author, and his relationship with building surveyor Magnus Cassidy is going from strength to strength. 

When Owen finds a lump, he buries his head in the sand. He’s too busy for doctor appointments and besides, it’s probably nothing. He pushes concern away and is soon swept up in a whirlwind of distractions. His best friend’s husband is falling apart and Owen needs to be strong for them, not burdening them with his fears.

He says he’ll deal with it when the new book is released, when Ryan and Sameer are more stable, when he’s done writing. Owen has a hundred excuses to hide one simple fact: he’s scared.

Eventually Magnus drags him to the doctor, and the news isn’t good. Can Owen cope with the unexpected turn events have taken, or is his perfect life about to go balls up?

My thoughts:

I finished reading Balls Up some time ago and have been procrastinating about writing this review ever since. Not because I have any doubts about how I feel about this book or because I didn’t like it as much as I hoped I might, quite the opposite. The reason I have been and still am reluctant to articulate my thoughts, is that I’m afraid I can’t do it without it a) turning into a gush-fest and b) getting way too personal. For what it’s worth I’ll give it a shot, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I loved, loved, loved Balls Up. Before starting the book I had one or two reservations about reading a book in which one of the characters battles cancer but I dove in anyway because I trusted Kate Aaron to treat the subject right.

It would be very easy to turn this review into a novella in its own right, while I give a blow by blow account of everything I thought and felt while reading this book; my frustration with Owen when he refuses to go to the doctor, my continued frustration with him when he won’t tell his friends and family that he’s ill, my sympathy for him as he comes face to face with all the indignities accompanying hospital stays and intrusive treatments and... I could go on.

This book touched me on a very deep and personal level. No, I’ve never personally faced cancer but I have been through the medical system on more than one occasion and know what it’s like to stare death in the face and keep on going regardless. I know how frustrating it is when your independence is slowly stripped away and you find yourself depending on others for things you’d rather keep private. I know that sense of betrayal when your body lets you down and the anger and frustration that leads to. But also, I know how amazing it feels to have someone in your life who doesn’t bat an eye-lid, who supports you despite the cost to themselves, who loves you no matter what you look like or how undignified your situation may be.

For me Kate Aaron’s amazing talent was at its most obvious when she could take me back and re-experience all those emotions without making me cry. While Owen and I fought very different battles there wasn’t an emotion he felt I didn’t instantly recognize nor a situation he found himself in I hadn’t experienced too. That should have made this a hard if not impossible book for me to read. Much to my surprise it was the exact opposite.

I need a few words to talk about Magnus. Just as Kate got the trials Owen goes through exactly right, she was also spot-on when it came to her descriptions of the loving and supportive partner. In fact, she got it so right I’d forgotten what Magnus was supposed to look like by the time I was half way through the book; in my head he’d taken on the appearance of my husband and nobody can convince me that’s not what he looks like.

This is, without a doubt, (one of) the best book(s) I’ve read this year. The story took me through every emotion imaginable only to leave me uplifted by the time the story ended. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing this book is. I can tell you that you’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you did not read it.

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