One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days by Giles Paley-Phillips #BookReview #BlogTour

Soon. The boy will be able to see his mother soon. His mother who is terminally ill, his mother who he has been barred from visiting in hospital as he recovers from his own bout of pneumonia. 
As he slowly recovers, with the help of his physiotherapist Freya, he must navigate his increasingly empty and isolated existence: his father, who has turned to drink to mask the pain; his Nana Q, whose betting-slip confetti litters her handbag; his friends, who can't really understand what he's going through. 
One hundred and fifty-two days later the boy will come face to face with his grief, and move beyond to a world full of possibility, hope and love. 

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days today. Many thanks to Giles Paley-Phillips, Unbound and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for sending me a copy of the book.

Yesterday would have been my parents forty-ninth wedding anniversary - except my mum died in 1994, aged just 42. The boy in One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days is younger than I was when my mum was terminally ill and this is his unique story but this beautifully written book really resonated with me - as I'm sure it will with anybody who has ever faced the loss of a loved one.
Written from the first-person perspective of a teenage boy and in verse throughout, this is a quick read but though it may only be a short book, it certainly isn't lacking in emotional depth. The boy is trying to come to terms with knowing his mother is dying while being prevented from visiting her in hospital as he recovers from pneumonia. As I read, I couldn't help but cast my mind back to when my mum was ill and I remembered how disorientating it is to lose a parent as a young adult. It's the age when you're no longer a child but still desperately need the guidance and support of your parents and I thought that Giles Paley-Phillips captured this perfectly.
He often feels resentful towards his father but it is painfully obvious that far from not caring, this is actually a man who is not coping with his own grief. Likewise, his Nana Q's reliance on her little routines - her betting slips and visits to the cafe, indicate a woman trying to come to terms with her own imminent loss. Grief may draw people together but it is still an immensely lonely time and One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days explores this candidly yet sympathetically. The boy finds his private island - his respite from his pain - through the empathetic support of his physiotherapist, Freya and he latches on to her with the gentle obsession of first love.
There are so many moments I could identify with here; the times when it's hard to comprehend how day to day life is expected to carry on, the bitter nostalgia of happier times, the anger directed towards others - sometimes deserved, often not and perhaps most poignantly, the guilt. One of the most moving parts of the novella comes when his mother passes away and he acknowledges that with that comes a sense of relief,

'It felt like we'd all been
holding our breath for one hundred 
and fifty-two days and now
we had all breathed out
at the same time.
And we all felt the relief.'

One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days is semi-autobiographical and is clearly written from the heart. It is a raw, emotional novel which understands that the fear and grief experienced during this darkest time in a person's life can become almost too overwhelming to bear. However, it also recognises the importance of kindness and love, with a heartfelt reminder that though we are changed by pain and loss, so too are we shaped by those we have loved and who loved us.
I wish I'd had a book like this when I was younger and I hope it will find its way into the hands of the teenagers and young adults who need it now. Although each of us have our own unique experiences of grief, the honest beauty and sensitivity of One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days means it will bring comfort and hope to readers of any age.

One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days is published by Unbound and can be purchased from Amazon, Waterstones, Hive or from your local independent bookstore.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Giles Paley-Phillips was born in East Sussex in 1977. He is a musician who has performed at Glastonbury, and is the author of nine books, including The Fearsome Beastie, which has now sold over 70,000 copies and won the People's Book Prize 2012 and the Heart Of Hawick Children's Book Award 2013. Giles has appeared on Good Morning Britain and as a judge on ITV's Share a Story. He also writes a regular book column for Title magazine and co-hosts BLANK podcast.
He is an ambassador for Action Aid UK.


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