Half a World Away by Mike Gayle Book Review

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Title: Half a World Away
Author: Mike Gayle
Pages: 320
Publication date: 13th June 2019
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

About the book:
Kerry Hayes is single mum, living on a tough south London estate. She provides for her son by cleaning houses she could never hope to afford. Taken into care as a child, Kerry cannot ever forget her past.

Noah Martineau is a successful barrister with a beautiful wife, daughter and home in fashionable Primrose Hill. Adopted as a child, Noah always looks forward, never back.

When Kerry reaches out to the sibling she lost on the day they were torn apart as children, she sets in motion a chain of events that will have life-changing consequences for them both.

I've had this book sitting on my Kindle for a while now, but as always, I pretty much always pick out a physical book to read rather than seeing what is stored on my (sometimes forgotten about) Kindle. Since we can't go out shopping due to the lockdown and the fact that I hate buying books online, the only real way to feed my book buying habits is to see what Amazon have to offer on Kindle. I've bought most of my books this month on Kindle but it's also given me the much needed reminder to actually read on it, especially the books that have been sitting on there for a while.

This is the first book of Gayle's that I've read and I wasn't too sure what to expect going into it. I've seen this book floating about Bookstagram over the past year or so, but I hadn't read too many reviews or properly looked into it, which I think most of the time goes in the book's favour as there aren't any high expectations.

With that being said, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the dual first-person POV narrative between Kerry & Noah and I think Gayle absolutely nailed getting their personalities across. Kerry's chapters are much more 'common' and are written how someone would speak as if talking to a friend. Noah's chapters are much more structured and precise, which reflects perfectly his privileged upbringing opposed to Kerry's much tougher childhood and adolescent years.

The thing that stood out to me most of all from reading this book, was Kerry's ability to never give up hope. Kerry as a character was one that truely stood for making the best out of any situation and to just get on with things no matter what life throws at you. Kerry was such a loveable character - probably one of the best characters I've read about in a while - and I think any reader can take something from her and apply it to their own way of thinking and behaving. Her role as a mother, a sister and a friend is something that was truely touching and endearing and it's such an important aspect of the book and a lesson I won't be forgetting in a hurry.

Whilst I did really enjoy this book, I will warn you that it's also an emotionally intense story and you should have tissues at the ready. It deals with so many important topics; family, friendships, race, terminal illnesses, social class differences & childcare system pitfalls. But it handles them all in such a sensitive manner despite being tough subjects to cover and it does so without putting the reader on a downer, which is incredibly hard to do, but Gayle manages to pull it off perfectly.

This book is a brilliant character-driven read that is beautifully written and uplifting in parts, but will most likely pull at the heartstrings of even the most cold-hearted of readers.

Verdict: ★★★★

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