Francis Wootton's first memory is of Kurt Cobain's death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection - and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who's at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.
Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.
There's the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn't reckoned on meeting Amber - fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber - and finding a reason to tackle it all - the good, the bad and everything in between - head on.
In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live.
I was concerned at first surely it's impossible to laugh at a book that deals with the issue of cancer but then the realisation is that it's a person you're reading about.
All be it a person dealing with a severe illness but a person who needs to keep living, laughing and fighting.
And for me I can honestly say that Matthew Crow has delivered an extremely well written book that is witty, inspirational and sensitive all in one.
Straight away I found myself liking Francis, the way he describes himself at the beginning had me laughing.
Especially the bathroom line!
Within a few pages this 15 year old had won me over and I soon found myself emotionally involved in his story.
When Francis meets Amber It adds a new dynamic to the story, this is where you remember you've an excitable teenager with raving hormones.
Amber is a great character and I can see why Francis is enchanted by her.
It's one of those books I can see people re-reading. A book that puts your life into perspective.
There are lessons to be learnt in living life but also in first love, as well as the happiness we chase and the dreams we all want.
I laughed, I cried and at points I even sighed.
Within the pages my heart went on a rollercoaster ride and when I got off, I was ready to discover more from this inspiring author Matthew Crow!
A big thank you to Broo from Wade and Doherty Literary Agency Ltd for sending me a copy to review!