25/6 - Starting this now (as in, in the middle of another book) because it's short and I'm very behind on my reading challenge and because I'm 'watching' footy with my dad and lights aren't allowed to be on while watching the footy, so *light bulb* eBook on my laptop. To be continued...
30 mins later - Good writing, good characters. I just wish so much of the story hadn't been spent in Jack's head, there's too much time spent with Jack berating himself for not realising his true feelings earlier and not enough face-to-face interaction between Jack and Paul. Definitely made me wish it had been made into a full length novel.
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.