It can only take one day to change a life forever. On a normal day in Dublin, two lives are unalterably changed. Lifesaving for Beginners is the story of Kat and Milo, a nearly forty year old woman living in Dublin and an almost ten year old boy from Brighton, and the event that will connect Kat and Milo and those closest to them. It is an event that brings them together by a twist of fate and bounds them by a decades old secret.
The premise of this book was intriguing. I had no idea how Kat and Milo could be connected and why they would be brought together. As I started reading, this became even more puzzling. Kat is by turns prickly and caring. She is good at running away, and has been doing it for so long that it’s starting to affect the chance of happiness Kat has for her future. The day that changes everything has consequences for Kat and Milo, but also for those people who are central to them both, like Kat’s friend/boyfriend Thomas and Milo’s sister Faith. Kat’s world appears to be incomparable to Milo’s. He has his mam, his sister and brothers, and his lifesaving for beginner’s class. Milo is a fantastic character, thoughtful, kind and funny in the way only a nine-nearly-ten year old boy is. As more than one character mentions in the novel, you would want Milo on your team. Ciara Geraghty, deftly and with great subtlety, weaves the secret and the truth of the story that is just starting between Kat and Milo into the novel, in a display of absorbing storytelling.
Every author’s writing style is different, but Geraghty’s really stood out to me. Geraghty really gets at the heart of the character she is writing about so the first person narratives of Kat and Milo completely epitomise them both. Ciara Geraghty can create a character’s personality through the shortest of meetings. Many of the minor characters, like Milo’s best friend, Damo, are barely met by the reader, but described so vividly that they leap off the page.
While Lifesaving for Beginners often touches on serious subjects, humour was used to great effect in the novel. On more than one occasion I was laughing out loud to myself. Lifesaving for Beginners features death and sadness, but it also highlights life and its rewards.
Ciara Geraghty’s fourth novel is heart-breaking and funny, poignant and life affirming. It is a story of fate and family, and shows you are never too old or young to start lifesaving.