Five Steps to Happy is based on the true-life experience of the author, Ella Dove.
Heidi is 32 years old – a struggling actress who works in a bar (it was supposed to be a part-time stop-gap, but it’s become more of a full-time gig), and lives with her best friend Dougie who’s on the verge of moving out so he can go and live with his boyfriend, Hal. It’s not exactly where she expected to be at her age, but she’s more or less content with her life as it is for the time being.
Until one day, she’s out for her morning jog when she has a freak accident and wakes up in hospital to discover that her right leg has been amputated below the knee! From that point on, I thought I was going to cry my way through this book – and I did for quite a bit of it. I cried for Heidi’s loss, her pain, her anxiety, her distress, her embarassment (that she should never have felt – this is not something she chose) and for her anger. Then I cried for her family, for what they had to endure, for their desperate need to protect her from what they were feeling, for their need to protect each other and for the way they felt unable to talk to each other about what they were going through. And then I cried for Dougie, Heidi’s best friend, the dearest man who battled to deal with what had happened to his closest friend, the person who had been beside him for so long, through thick and thin, and who he hadn’t been able to protect from this horrific incident.
As you can see, I cried … A LOT!! And when I eventually pulled myself toward myself, I gave myself a little talking to and asked myself how I thought I had the right to be so bloody miserable about all of this, when it hadn’t actually happened to me, but to someone else, who had to live through it, I stopped the pity party!
Heidi is moved from the hospital into a rehabilitation unit, grumbling all the way, especially when she discovers that she won’t even have her own room. All she wants is to be left alone to wallow in her misery. However, she develops a strong bond with her elderly room-mate Maud, a bright and optimistic woman who helps her to see that this is something she’s going to have to learn to live with. She either needs to be positive about it and find a way to get on with her new life … or else. Is the alternative even worth contemplating?
So together with Maud and Maud’s grandson Jack, Heidi undertakes her very own ‘five steps to happy’. She realises that she needs to live by her own rules, not those set by the rehab centre and its staff or anyone else for that matter. How she’s going to live the rest of her life is something that she herself needs to determine. And with bravery and steely determination she sets out to do just that.
This is an absolutely beautiful book. It’s not over-emotional (believe me – that was all me and my total and utter over-reaction), but is at all times honest. It brings to light the minutae of daily life that we don’t even give a second thought to as we rush about in our haste to get things done. The bravery that needs to be mustered by someone facing such a life-changing experience is unimaginable, and while they are constantly told how inspirational they are, most don’t realise the strength and effort that goes into appearing so brave. They’re not attempting to inspire and uplift others, they’re merely trying to get through each seemingly excruciating hour at a time.
This is a 5-star sparkler of a book, which I would recommend to everyone!
Thank you to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on this blog tour. Take a look at what other bloggers are saying …