Photos of You…
About the Book:
A compassionate, uplifting story about love for fans of ME BEFORE YOU.
‘People are here for me, to celebrate the anniversary of the day I was given life. On the very same day I’d just been told my life was all but over.’
When Ava Green turns twenty-eight, she is told it will be her last birthday. The cancer she fought three years ago is back, and this time it’s going to beat her. But Ava is not going to let cancer define her last, precious months – she wants the wedding of her dreams. She doesn’t have a groom, she doesn’t have much money, and she definitely doesn’t have much time . . . but none of that matters. She’s going to go it alone.
As her friends and family rally to help deliver her dying wish for a party to end all parties, the media get involved and her story spreads around the country. But when photographer James Gable arrives, Ava’s plans are disrupted. Suddenly all the emotions she’d packed away are on her doorstep. Now she has to decide – is she is brave enough to let love in and strong enough to say goodbye?
‘We are all dying. Every day, a little bit more.’
You would think that a novel about a young woman dying of cancer would be a rather depressing read. I will admit to bracing myself as I settled into the first chapter, giving myself permission in the back of my mind to ditch it if it began to be all too much. I wasn’t really up for another The Fault in Our Stars, or even worse, Beaches. Surprisingly, in amongst all of the sadness – and I’ll be honest here, there is A LOT of sadness – there was a life affirming aspect that kept me turning the pages all through the day and long into the night.
‘I watch my favourite movie, Love Actually, six times in one day even though it is not Christmas, because I worry that I won’t be around at Christmas to see it when it comes on TV. There are one hundred and forty-two days, nine hours, fifty-six minutes and twenty-three seconds until Christmas. I find a website that gives me a countdown and make it my new screensaver. Morbid, for sure. But it gives me something to aim for.’
Told in the first person from the perspective of Ava, twenty-eight and dying of secondary cancer, there is a frankness to the narrative that was both fresh and humorous, so honest and entirely without dramatic overplay. A double edged sword though, as there were many moments that stole my breath and left me weeping, the frankness leaving everything open. As a mother, this was a difficult novel to read at times. Ava was not all that far into her adult life; there was still so much left for her out there. I’ll be honest here (again) and say that I don’t really know if I fully supported the idea of a Ava forming a relationship with someone new when she was so close to death. I certainly loved that her final weeks were filled with love and some of her dreams were realised, but the novel concludes with James articulating his grief, and I was deeply affected by the notion that he may not ever let Ava go. That he would hang onto her and spend the remainder of his days wandering from one photography job to the next, never again settling. The mother in me put one of my sons into his position and it really didn’t sit well with me. A bit of a moral dilemma there to chew over in a book club discussion.
‘…it’s not a tragedy, because that implies some sense of random bad luck. That I stood on a crack in the pavement when I should have jumped over it. Spilt salt or broke a mirror. No. I didn’t bring this on myself. It has been brewing inside me since I was a cluster of cells floating in my mother’s uterus. It was always there, lurking within, just waiting to take over.’
Photos of You really is a worthwhile read. There are some excellent messages in there about living life to its fullest, making even the small and insignificant moments count, and most important of all, being self aware when it comes to your health. Being your own biggest advocate when you aren’t taken seriously by doctors. This aspect impressed me and I appreciate the author’s intent. I really enjoyed a lot of this novel, more than enough to balance out the sadness. Highly recommended.
‘Don’t wait until you’re dying to start living.’
Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of Photos of You for review.
About the Author:
Tammy Robinson is a contemporary women’s fiction author from the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. After years spent working her way round the world, Tammy settled back in New Zealand with her husband and three beautiful children.
Photos of You
Published by Hachette Australia – Hachette NZ
Released 11th December 2019