Book Review: Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

ViralWhat’s it about?

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

My thoughts

“Like everyone else in this place, she left her senses at home with her raincoat”

And therein, I feel, sets the moral of this story….

Well..the opening line kind of sets the tone for the rest of the book – I’ll let you discover that for one for yourselves. Suffice to say, I can’t see this book being found on any low supermarket shelf. It’s hard to read in places with very sexually explicit scenes and is probably not a book to leave around for young people to find.

It’s very easy to see and understand how Su would find herself in this situation, the whole Magaluf holiday lifestyle is certainly an eye-opener and totally believable especially if you’ve watched those warts and all TV shows.

I found some of Ruth’s actions extreme and wasn’t entirely convinced that her and some of the characters actions were believeable. I think she was looking for someone else to blame and whilst this book highlights the differences between legally and morally wrong and making people sorry for their actions she was looking in the wrong place.

Gone are the days when “today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper”. Here is a book which is very of our time; where one click online can last a lifetime! You have been warned!

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Book Review: The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald

The ExitWhat’s it about?

23-year-old Catherine is mainly interested in Facebook and flirting, but she reluctantly takes a job at a local care home after her mother puts her foot down – and soon discovers that her new workplace contains many secrets.

One of the residents at the home, 82-year-old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia – so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway?

As Catherine starts investigating Rose’s allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what’s really going on before it’s too late?

My thoughts

This is the first novel by Helen Fitzgerald that I’ve read and I’m sure it won’t be the last. With an opening chapter title of Four weeks prior to death it had my interest sparked from the beginning.

Young, immature Catherine is in need of a proper job when she manages to land one in a care home. At home, Catherine is dictated to by her mum’s lists that she will soon come to love and the structure and reliability they hold for her.

“My mum gave me my first ‘Sunday List’ when I was five.”

On her shifts she gets to know Rose who’s suffering from dementia and who wanders in and out of lucidness and time. Rose has had a very successful career as a children’s author and illustrator but is haunted by a family tragedy from her childhood which comes out in her dementia moments when she’s back in her past. So the story is told in turn by Catherine in the present and Rose in the past aged 10 and in the present aged 82 and together they try to discover what’s happening across the hall in room 7.

The story often swaps between them chapter by chapter or paragraph by paragraph but isn’t confusing to follow; it’s giving you snippets of each of their lives bit by bit, unravelling little by little to keep you reading.

With some deeply moving scenes and sadness at times this book’ll have you reaching for the tissues and in the next breath holding on to the edge of your seat.  The plot moves along at quite a steady pace, till the point where we know Rose holds the key to what’s really going on in room 7 and it’s left to Catherine to find out before it’s too late. The last few chapters had me so gripped I couldn’t leave it, I had to finish it which gave me a very late nights reading that night. However, I have to say the ending’s very wierd and dark which might not be to everyone’s taste.

Many thanks to Sophie at Faber & Faber for sending me a copy.

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