Review: A Song for Issy Bradley – Carys Bray

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Since one of my friends reviewed this (Jen) I’ve been absolutely gagging to get my hands on this book. As it was, I went out to buy it and the shop I saw it in had run out of stock so I had to relent and buy the ebook. I didn’t really want to, I’ve been in the mood to buy and read ‘real books’ and I especially didn’t want to buy the ebook because, seriously, isn’t this cover just gorgeous?!

Anyhow, this book the story of how a family copes after the death of their youngest child, Issy. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. This book is astoundingly beautiful, it’s heartbreaking and heart-warming all at once. It was a really, really hard subject handled with such tact and authenticity. While heartbreaking in parts there’s smatterings of humour of every day life.

Knowing that Issy dies, everyone knows that. It’s in the synopsis. It was just a matter of when or how. The first few chapters are responsible for this, and they’re just so perfect. I was sucked in almost immediately, the premise of little Jacob’s birthday – knowing what was happening – I was almost sobbing before I began! As it built up, Zippy’s musings, Alma being a pain-in-the-arse, Jacob being all round cute, Claire being just so wonderfully mumsy and Ian… being Ian, nobody really notices how ill little Issy is. Left to sleep with a quick dose of Calpol – Issy is gradually succumbing to a terrible illness, while Jacob’s party continues downstairs. The result is horrifyingly inevitable and desperately sad.

The uphill struggle after her death is where I started to get a little angsty with it. While it was beautiful and poignant, I also found it a little too preachy in places. I could cope with the preachy in moderation, but it was the down right misogyny that got me. I won’t lie, as a feminist this book made me feel uncomfortable in places! The outright oppression of women, how all they’re expected to do is get married and have babies, it didn’t really sit right with me. Nonetheless, I carried on and I was glad I did.

Ian’s unwavering belief irritated me, quite significantly. I really, really didn’t like him much until the last section – his epiphany, his change of heart, him finally putting his family first I felt was the most poignant moment of the entire book! It was the moment that actually hit me most, actually and I think it was because it was long overdue.

Claire I warmed to instantly, her grief was so believable I felt intrusive just reading about it in places. Her faith being the antithesis of Ian’s, and wavering I felt was a realistic approach but also gave the book a bit of balance.

The kids. I loved the kids. They were so rounded and believable. I did just adore them. All 3 of them. Zippy and her teenage love struggles in and amongst all the grief, Alma and his rebellion and then little Jacob – adorable Jacob – who being so young still believes in miracles and is certain that Issy is going to come back. Telling the story from their perspective too was just a perfect touch to this book, overlapping events told from 5 different points of view added a depth and roundness that offering it from one perspective, or 3rd person, just wouldn’t have failed to achieve.

Overall this is a solid book. It’s beautiful, it’s thoughtful, it’s amazing but it did get my shackles up in places and for that reason it’s 4.5/5 stars for me!

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