Today I am delighted to share with you my review of a new novel, ‘Braver‘, prior to publication on 30th June 2022. I’ve met its author, Deborah Jenkins, during a recent writing conference and we are fellow members of the Association of Christian Writers, and often in touch via our Facebook group. Deborah is very helpful, supportive and encouraging to her fellow authors, and it was lovely to find advance copies of her new novel available to buy at the recent conference, and I snapped up a copy!
Hazel has never felt normal. Struggling with OCD and anxiety, she isolates herself from others and sticks to rigid routines in order to cope with everyday life. But when she forms an unlikely friendship with Virginia, a church minister, Hazel begins to venture outside her comfort zone.
Having built her own life after a traumatic loss, Virginia has become the backbone of her community caring for those in need and mentoring disadvantaged young people. Yet a shock accusation threatens to unravel everything she has worked for.
MY REVIEW OF ‘BRAVER‘ BY DEBORAH JENKINS
A sensitive, thoughtful, touching novel about our contemporary society and the many ways in which people can be broken or vulnerable or ‘odd’ – along with the multitude of techniques with which people attempt to protect themselves, or try to cover it up.
We all have our own personal backstories which affect us now: our behaviour, our relationships, our approach to life. In this story, the main protagonist Hazel, living on her own in the London suburbs, and working as a Teaching Assistant in a local school, suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety, and we see how she encounters a group of people who give her the opportunity to change her life.
The key people she meets are young Harry, bullied at school, terrified ‘the Social’ will find out about his abusive home life with his alcoholic mother; and Virginia, a warm, compassionate and caring church minister with her own tragic past, whose eagerness to help others gets her in deep trouble. I found the story very poignant and discerning.
The novel has been compared to ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ and I can see a clear relationship between the two stories. By the end of Deborah Jenkins’ novel, we have a deeper insight into the complex and sometimes surprising ways we may become “braver” in our lives, no matter how diverse our circumstances. A beautiful and compelling story.
Deborah Jenkins is a freelance writer and primary teacher who has worked in schools in the UK and abroad. She has written several educational textbooks, as well as articles for the TES online and Guardian Weekend, among other publications. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies, and she has also published a novella, The Evenness of Things. She lives in Sussex and enjoys reading, walking gardening, travel and good coffee. She writes a blog at stillwonderinghere.
‘Braver’ will be out on 20th June but you can pre-order a copy here
Deborah may also be found on Twitter here:
and on Instagram here