From the author of Leave of Absence comes another compelling tale of the human psyche. A brilliant and talented man crippled by extreme anxiety and panic attacks, Brian has carefully crafted his world so that his interactions with others are severely limited. Although incapable of changing his situation, he discovers that, somehow, he is the only person seven-year-old Abigail can trust. Having bounced from one foster home to another, she has unexpectedly come to live with a childless uncle and aunt she has never known. For very different reasons, both Brian and Abigail are trapped in emotionally and socially isolated lives. Can they learn from each other?
Last year I reviewed Tanya's first novel Leave of Absence here and I have been waiting in anticipation for this second one.
I had a lazy day on Sunday and read this book in one sitting mainly because I couldn't put it down.
Brian has worked as a school caretaker for seventeen years, he starts work just as the school bell rings to mark the end of the day hoping he won't have to be in contact with many people.
I can't imagine how Brian has lived in the world for so long,a world that scares him to the point where he can't move from his bed. For seventeen years Brian has coped with his job but along comes seven year old Abigail who takes a liking to him and his world changes.
I loved Abigail, she was gutsy but vulnerable. She had had a life of never belonging and can't understand why her aunt and uncle want to keep her with them so she pushes them away. The school caretaker is the only one she trusts but a few people are suspicious of him and why he is around Abigail so much.
Through trying to help a little girl Brian comes in contact with two other teachers Sammi and Hugh. He can't understand why they like him and want to be friends as he sees himself as a horrible person who says all the wrong things and is too inadequate to live in a normal world.
I wanted to crawl into this book and hug Brian and Abigail. I wanted to tell Brian that he always says just the right thing at the right time,that he is a lovely man and people would be proud to have him as his friend.
I also wanted to give his mother a right good slap because she is the root of Brian's problems.
There is no great big plot in this story,there is no big secret or amazing revelation at the end. Instead what you get is a story of a broken man and a broken child, fate throws them together and something magical happens.
I've said too much about the story already and this is one I don't want to spoil for you. The pages of my book were wet with tears when I had finished and I had a lump in my throat that only a glass of wine would wash away.
I want to thank the author Tanya Peterson for sending me a copy of this book all the way from America. I really do prefer a real book in my hand and apart from its lovely atmospheric cover this book is very soft to touch and I can't stop running my hands over it. Book lovers will know what I mean.
On my cover reveal post I posted the trailer video but for those who didn't see it I've posted it again at the bottom.
My Life in a Nutshell paperback -free shipping
Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities. Locally and nationally, she gives presentations about mental health and mental illness. She volunteers with her local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness as a support group co-facilitator and Secretary of their Board of Directors. Tanya is a regular columnist for the Anxiety-Schmanxiety blog on HealthyPlace.com, and she is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Leave of Absence and My Life in a Nutshell, each featuring characters living with mental illness and addressing themes around mental health.