It’s day one of the blog tour for this really different, quirky read! And if you’re anything like me, then you’ll be looking for a story that’s out of the box and not like anything else you’ve ever read before – because we’ve all had enough of being inside our own heads lately, haven’t we?!
I started this book and it took me a while to find my feet with it. I found it a bit slow to get going, but once it did, I couldn’t put it down because it was like being on a roller-coaster ride that I never wanted to end! Shirley Steadman is 70 years old. She reminds me so much of my late aunt! She’s clearly battling physically and is in quite a bit of pain, whether it’s from arthritis or something else, I’m not sure. But she’s quite determined to soldier on and show as few signs as possible of the struggle it takes to walk and to try and do many of the other daily chores that she needs to do, living on her own. And she swears … quite a bit! So she’s not your sweet, benign old dear by any means!
She has a volunteer job at the local hospital, and she has a weekly crochet group that she’s part of. I loved hearing about the characters that made up the group! But it’s her work at the hospital that Shirley really values. It gives her life meaning and purpose and she feels she’s contributing to the patients and staff who she plays requests for. Above all, it gets her out of her house that is an empty shell, well, empty apart from the ghost of her beloved son Gabe who seems to be appearing with startling regularity these days!
And then, one evening while Shirley is biding her time, waiting for her show to begin, she starts fiddling around with an old radio she’s found in the studio. She finds what sounds like a pirate broadcasting frequency playing music that’s all too familiar to her, so she continues listening. A news bulleting comes on and she’s a bit puzzled as the news that’s being broadcast isn’t anything she’s heard about that day. Living in a small, close-knit village, one tends to know what’s going on so it would be a bit odd that she had no knowledge of what the newsreader was saying. But she puts it out of her head and goes about her business. The following day though, when an incident occurs that she’d heard on the previous evening’s news, Shirley is suddenly on high alert.
And that’s when this rather benign story suddenly kicks into overdrive! And so does Shirley! I adored her – she just never gave up and was determined to do whatever it took to get to the bottom of whatever was going on. She goes through a gamut of emotions, opinions and feelings, not knowing from one day to the next what’s real and what isn’t; forced to question her own reality, her past experiences and her current relationships. Her daughter, who means well, does her best to help, but isn’t really emotionally equipped to cope with all this activity that threatens to unbalance her carefully constructed, balanced life. So Shirley is forced to either go it alone, or seek assistance from other sources. But how is that all going to work out?
Once the story got going, it just didn’t let up. Not only is it extremely clever, but it also forces us to question the norms that society places on our elderly. We tend to place people in boxes once they reach a certain age, relegating them to the realms of a shadow world where they’re either completely ignored or just not taken seriously. This needs to be reconsidered. Growing old is a privilege that many don’t get, and we need to treat our elders with a lot more gravitas, not only for the sheer number of years they’ve lived, but for what they’ve experienced and learned in those years, and what they have the capability to impart to those of us who have yet to achieve what they have.
This is a 4 star read. Suspend all belief when you read this book; know that there are flaws, but also know that if you dive in with an open mind, you’ll enjoy the journey!
Thank you to Compulsive Readers for this blog tour. Follow the tour to see what other bloggers have to say about Half Past Tomorrow …
Chris McGeorge studied MA Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller) at City University London where he wrote his first novel as his thesis. His interests are broad – spanning film, books, theatre and video games. He is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate, a supergroup of writers from Northern England. He lives in County Durham with his partner and
many, many animals.