10 May 2017

Book Review: A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

"Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world. 

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts."

Rating: 5/5

I love Alice Peterson's stories, and when I was sent a review copy of her brand new book A Song for Tomorrow, I was over the moon and couldn't wait to get reading. As the publicity for this book began, I found out it was based upon a true story, a real woman called Alice Martineau suffering with Cystic Fibrosis, and this certainly adds an element of realism when you are reading it. It's based on the real Alice, but this particular story, including Alice's family and friends, are fictional, but again you can't help but draw parallels with a real family going through these things.

Alice knows that her Cystic Fibrosis is going to kill her before she reaches old age, unless she is lucky enough to receive a lung transplant, among other things that she needs. However, before she dies, Alice is determined to prove everyone wrong and fulfill her ambition of becoming a singer. She won't let her bad lungs hold her back, and is sure that she can do it. When she meets Tom, completely by chance, the pair strike up a quick friendship which soon develops into something more, although he knows he could lose her at any time. Will Alice be able to make the songs she so desperately wants to before its too late, for both her and Tom?

As you can probably tell, this is a very emotive book right from the beginning, and doesn't let up throughout. It also doesn't shy away from detailing the horrible realities of suffering with Cystic Fibrosis, and some of the scenes in the book did shock me a bit I have to confess. I did know a little about CF before I read this, but the book certainly opened my eyes to elements of the illness that I wasn't aware of before. It's very clear how much research Alice Peterson has done in order to write this book properly, and I have to commend her for that because it reads incredibly well. and it was very eye-opening for me.

Alice is a great character to lead the book, and I loved her straight away. She is very realistic about her illness, how it affects her and the prognosis it has on her life. It's horrible to confront your own mortality, especially at such a young age like Alice does, and I don't know how she had the strength. In fact, it was her parents that made me the most upset - how do you contemplate losing your child before you die, watching them get weaker and weaker, losing them and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it? The scenes with Alice's parents, particularly her mother, were truly heart-breaking and often had me in tears.

Alice's talent at songwriting was amazing, and seeing her lyrics on the pages of this book was so touching, and made me want to go and download some of the real Alice's songs and hear just how good she was for myself, to understand why she was so determined to make a success of her music against the odds. As well as this part of the story, there was her relationship with Tom which was emotional reading as well. Tom has a lot of harsh realities to face, something his family and friends worry about (as anyone would of course), but the way he was determined to show that his love for Alice could come above all of the worry, fear, grief and loss was very emotional and inspirational.

For me, this novel was a triumph, and certainly the best book of Alice's I have read so far, which is no mean feat believe me! Alice's writing about everything from the strength and grace of the leading lady Alice through her struggles, to the details of CF and the effects that has on not only the patient but the family and friends were so well handled, it was very emotional to read and I did shed lots of tears throughout this book. For me, though, the over-riding sadness came from reading Alice's parents side of it, the small things Alice witnesses between them, the crushing grief that clearly lives inside them was just awful to read, and as a parent, it is your worst nightmare. However, I cannot help but recommend this stunning, emotive read. Wonderfully written, a joy to read and a story that has touched me and will stay with me forever.

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