Book Review: Lifesaving For Beginners

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Author: Ciara Geraghty
ISBN: 978-0-340-99811-3
RRP: $27.99

Lifesaving for Beginners seemed to take a long time for me to get lost in, having said that I just realised I basically read the book in two days so it can’t have taken that long.

I found much of the story quite disjointed, and not in the places I would have expected.

This novel has two narrators, they are very different characters so I expected their story telling styles to have much less in common than it did.

Milo is an almost ten year old boy whose style of story telling seems very authentic. He has that air of innocence where he understands a lot but doesn’t really grasp the consequences, or all of the consequences. Milo is a smart boy, like many children, he grasps much more than he is given credit for. He tells his side of the story with that blunt innocence, in short sentences filled with tangents. He is honest and open in his storytelling, even as he is telling us about lies he has told.

Kat on the other hand is an almost 40 year old woman who is drowning in self-deception and has spent a lot of her life walled up inside herself, safe from emotions and attachments, with the exception of her younger brother and her best friend. She thinks things are going quite well until the day she miraculously manages to walk away from a multi car pile-up with at least one fatality.

Many people wake up from a near death experience with a new sense of purpose, a new outlook that will allow them to make the most of every day and not take anything for granted. Kat is not many people, Kat is not fond of change. She wakes up in the hospital and the freak out begins. Her boyfriend is one of those who allows near death to put things in perspective so he becomes more attentive, more serious and broaches the worrying (for some) subjects of marriage, children and buying a place together. This is enough to totally knock Kat off  balance because she does not embrace change, and will not face up to the feelings she harbours.

Lifesaving For Beginers

I did find it difficult to really get into Kat’s head, I can’t be really sure why. The deeper into the story we traveled the more I could relate to how Kat got to be who she was but I couldn’t help wanting to shake her and make her wake up to what she was doing.

Coincidence played a large role in this tale, depending on what you believe of course, because I think it was more a case of destiny stepping in to make sure things unfolded the way they were supposed to. There were to many instances of ‘what are the chances?’ for it all to be coincidence.

Kat tells everyone she’s a technical writer when really she’s writing crime novels under a pseudonym, even down to her career there is dishonesty in her life. At least this is one aspect that she can be honest with herself about, until everything changes after the accident and she develops a severe case of writer’s block. The more I reflect on the book the more I think the writing was all part of the running and as the day approached when running was no longer an option the words stopped somewhere below the surface so they could no longer be used as a shield.

Milo’s a gorgeous kid, a little enigmatic as well. He is almost ten and he is quite clever for his age. There are times he seems quite mature and like he has all the answers, and then something will happen to remind you that he’s only a nine year old boy thrust into a situation he can’t quite grasp completely. His Lifesaving course is a tangible lifeline for him, one that he uses to anchor himself to the life he is used to.

Ciara Geraghty has written an entertaining and emotionally involving story of love, of loss, of running away and of the past catching up with you. In turns amusing, annoying and heart-breaking I couldn’t help but wish the best for Kat and Milo, and their families. Kat may have made me want to slap her but for the most part I wanted her to forgive herself and learn to move on.

This is Ciara’s fourth novel and only the second I have read, both of which I have really enjoyed and will keep an eye out for more of her work. The issues she tackles are not ones you come across every day but they are feasible and believable; and her characters are unique and realistic. They are flawed, they make mistakes, and you can’t help but feel for them and want them to redeem themselves.


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