Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.
Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.
All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.
If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.
This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.
I’m very excited that my debut novel ‘Surviving Me’ is due to be published on the 14 November. The novel is about male minds and what pushes a regular man to the edge. The novel combines all the themes I can write about with authenticity.
I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1992 and initially worked with people with learning disabilities before moving into the field of neurology in 1996. I worked in the NHS until 2008 when i left to write and explore new projects.
I now work as an independent clinical psychologist in West Sussex.
Jo speaks and writes for several national neurology charities including Headway and the MS Trust. Client and family related publications include, “Talking to your kids about MS”, “My mum makes the best cakes” and “Shrinking the Smirch”.
In the last few years Jo has been offering psychological intervention using the acceptance and commitment therapeutic model (ACT) which is the most up to date version of CBT. She is now using THE ACT model in a range of organisations such as the police to help employees protect their minds in order to avoid symptoms of stress and work related burnout.
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This has been probably one of the most engaging books I’ve read this year. The reason: it’s very real, believable, and features topics that we just don’t talk enough about. I loved it!
Written primarily from the male viewpoint of Tom, with occasional chapters headed up by his wife, Siri, the story eases us into their everyday life. Siri wants a baby, but it’s not happening which starts to create tensions. So when Tom loses his job, he’s wary of telling Siri, and hopes to find a new one quickly and then break the news.
But the new job doesn’t happen, and Tom’s insecurities mount. Rather than face up to the truth, he continues his regular routine, pretending to go to work, and with each passing day it becomes harder to tell her.
What does he do then, when he’s pretending to be at work? He drives around, not too far because fuel costs money, but eventually stops off at a café in a small village where he can be anonymous while applying for jobs on his laptop. Here there are no expectations, no judgements to be made.
But this is no ordinary café, or rather the owner and the regulars are not so easily duped. While keeping their distance, they notice him …and his visits become more frequent and longer lasting. He finds himself intrigued by them too, especially a young girl, Lydia, who sits alone by the window, lost in her own world.
At home, Siri is still fretting about not conceiving, so both of them visit the doctors for tests. When Tom finds out he is infertile, this is another blow to his confidence … and another secret to keep for as long as he can. Already feeling pretty worthless, knowing he can’t give Siri the one thing she wants tips him over the edge. His own personal depression is not helped by other worries about his brother-in-law’s odd behaviour. In all, everything seems to be going wrong.
You’ll have to read for yourself what happens next – you won’t be disappointed. There are moments of sadness, poignancy, hope and despair, but above all, there’s a sense of love, togetherness, and community.
I don’t have any personal experience of depression, but there is a genuine sense of vulnerability in many of the characters. They are real people, with real flaws and issues, and a very real British approach to such issues – i.e. say nothing and it’ll all go away! Asking for help seems so hard, but absolutely nothing to be worried about or ashamed of.
I don’t want to give the impression that this story is a hard or a heavy read; it’s not. It flows effortlessly and will scoop you up for the ride. Emotions are laid bare, but that means humour and hope rise to the surface and will make you smile. I particularly appreciated the author writing much of this from a male perspective given that suicide is such a major problem among younger men. It’s easy to see how life can become too much, and by not talking about it, the future seems too bleak. Kudos to the author for tackling this head on and with such clarity.
The ending is possibly one of the greatest twists I’ve read in recent months. Delivered with great subtlety but with the power of a sledgehammer! Fabulous, and I hope it leads to a sequel.
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