‘Lifesaving for Beginners’ by Ciara Geraghty

Thanks to the team at Hachette and host Bree from All the Books I Can Read, I took part in a read-along over the last few weeks. The book was Lifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty.

It’s the story of parallel lives – forty-in-a-few-months Kat who has just broken up with her partner (Thomas) and almost-ten Milo, whose mum has recently died. One lives in England, one lives in Ireland but a twist of fate brings these two together.

I really liked the dual narration – two distinct voices, both perfectly executed. Kat – well, you know her – she speaks directly to the audience I imagine this book was intended for.  And Milo, with his factual, no-nonsense approach to life broke my heart (perhaps because I also have a ten-year-old son). Milo is so stoic and it’s the little details – for example having to cut his own toenails now that his mum is gone – that makes him such a lovely character.

“I go into the kitchen and put the kettle on anyway. If it were Wednesday and the ferry got cancelled, Mam would be here and we wouldn’t be eating leftover pizza and drinking Coke for our breakfast…”

“Adults always wonder how kids can eat ice cream in the wintertime, but it tastes exactly the same as it does in the summertime.”

It’s a funny book. Not side-splitting but I did have some laugh-out-loud moments, mostly when Kat’s best friend, Minnie, was on the scene. Of Minnie, Kat says –

“She couldn’t look at me the morning after she told me that she was cracked about Maurice and had signed up for an accountancy course. Too ashamed, I suppose. We were on holiday together at the time. I told her there were worse things to be but when she asked me to be more specific, it took me a while.”

“She and Maurice became foodies during the boom. A lot of people did. They know about things like celeriac and truffles. The old Minnie would have beaten any talk of celeriac and truffles out of anyone, especially an accountant like Maurice. And I mean actually physically beaten it out of him. With a branch of a tree.”

And it’s sad – not in a sobbing-with-snot kind of way but more that dull ache in a corner of your heart that you get for some characters. Suspect that feeling was again thanks to Milo and seeing life without a ‘mam’ through his eyes.

The premise of the book hinges around one almighty coincidence (which I won’t give away). Some of the other bloggers in the read-along didn’t like this aspect of the story. Interestingly, Geraghty could have easily done without it. The story would have worked just as well with a more believable set of circumstances. Anyway, it didn’t impinge on my enjoyment of the story and there were a few other plot lines that kept things moving.

3.5/5 A lovely cast of memorable characters and a fun, light read.

The Funky Banana Café is mentioned a number of times in the book, as are all sorts of banana recipes – strawberry and banana smoothies, banana and peanut butter muffins, and banoffee pie. But I really loved a particular scene where Kat arrives home to discover Thomas making lemon and ginger biscuits. It’s a good example of Geraghty’s ability to mix sweet and sad into one scene.


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