1 February 2015

Book Review: Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

"Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out...

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more.

Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she's about to be given new lungs. But whose?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy Three Amazing Things About You as a hardback or an eBook right now.

Jill Mansell's books are certainly one of the highlights of my reading year, there is something so brilliant about her stories that I just want to dive in and devour it all in one sitting, even though I know must try to make it last at least a few days! The same can certainly be said for her latest book, Three Amazing Things About You. I was thrilled to receive a review, and as usual, couldn't stop myself from reading it straight away, staying up rather late for a few nights to carry on with the story. It is definitely one of those books which stays with you long after finishing it, and it's one of the most touching and rewarding stories I have ever read, and was a privilege to read.

Hallie has Cystic Fibrosis, something she has learnt to live with but is still holding out hope that one she will be the chosen one on the Organ Donor register and finally receive a new set of lungs that will transform her entire life. Until that day, she's resigned to her oxygen canisters, and living each day as much as she can as she doesn't know how long she has left. Flo rather likes Zander, but there's no love lost between herself and Zander's awful sister, who is determined to keep Zander to herself. Can Flo make their relationship work or is the family tie just too much to compete with? Then there's Tasha and her thrill-seeking boyfriend Rory. Tasha can't bear the thought of any of Rory's extreme sports, but knows it is part and parcel of loving him, even though the threat of danger hangs over him at every turn. When Hallie suddenly gets the call that she is getting new lungs, she can't help but wonder who those lungs once belonged to...

You can probably tell that this is a very emotive story, but one that had me absolutely hooked from the beginning. I have heard of cystic fibrosis, and had a bit of an idea about the disease, but not the extent to which it ravages the body and lungs of the sufferer, and how badly their life is affected, even their day to day activities. Hallie is very poorly, always catching infections and illnesses, and relies on her oxygen tanks to allow her to breathe. Her life is quite insular, although she does have friends she likes to go out with when she can. She is also quite close to her doctor, Luke, and the pair have a sweet friendship despite the medical link between them. I really liked Hallie, you can tell she doesn't want to be a burden to those around her, especially her mother and her best friend Bea, and is determined to live her life to the full as much as she can. She runs an anonymous agony aunt column, Dear Rose, and enjoys reading about other people's problems and trying to help them solve them. You can sense her desperate need for new lungs, and right at the very beginning of the book she finds out she is going to get exactly what she wants, before it turns back to life before the amazing phone call to talk about the other characters.

Every character in this pivotal to the story, and I loved them all, and their differing relationships and obstacles that they had to overcome. I enjoyed Rory and Tasha's heart-warming romance, and how Tasha was extremely fearful for Rory as he carried on doing the things that would give Tasha nightmares. As the story progresses and things start to happen in terms of the main plot, I felt desperately sad for Tasha, you can sense her pain in the book, I just don't know how I could have coped receiving the news that she and Rory did. Then there was the story of Flo and Zander, born out of something rather odd but destined to be a very sweet love story, despite facing the wrath of Zander's awful sister. Again, they are dealt a massive blow for the plot, and I'm not afraid to say I was in tears regularly throughout this book. Even the bittersweet discover for Flo was extremely emotional, I couldn't help but be moved as I was reading.

There's a lot of medical things going on throughout this book, and you do have to pay attention as you're reading to follow it properly. I won't spoil the story by detailing what happens any further, but it's very emotional and I was left on the edge of my seat as I was reading, desperate to find out the varying outcomes of the stories in the book as they start coming together. When all this was done, I thought the drama was out of the way but the ending part of the book was so very special too, again this had me welling up with tears. Mansell's writing is just perfection throughout this book, tapping it on the emotional part of the story, as well as the factual part which was incredibly interesting to read. The dialogue she writes is beautiful, telling us easily of love, sorrow, grief and happiness. I honestly felt I was going on the journey with these characters, and it was ultimately an incredibly touching 'feel-good' story. This is by far Jill Mansell's best and most-touching story to date (no mean feat, let me tell you), and one that won't be forgotten once read.

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