Behind every ordinary day, behind every ordinary story, there’s an extraordinary one just waiting to happen ….
Simon Sparks is the man you know from behind the counter at the local Prince Burger (‘hold the gherkin’), fry shovelling, shelf stacking, hiding away from the world. And Jodie Brook is the single mum you see crossing the street with her son Zak – always chasing a dream she can’t reach.
What if life could be so much more? When Simon and Jodie’s worlds collide, it upends everything they know. But in chaos comes opportunity. And for every person who’s ever doubted them, they find someone who’ll finally believe…..
Where do I start with this review, I absolutely loved this book, the characters, the story. It was an absolute joy to read. I will admit it’s not the type of book I normally read I tend to stick with crime thrillers, but have decided this year I need to branch out read some different genres. I am so glad I read this one.
Simon was raised by a very strict father, he was sitting his GCSE’s when other children are just learning to read. He never had a childhood, but when he was entered into a tv programme known a Little Einstein’s and answered a question in the final on a Dickens novel wrong, he was laughed at or maybe he felt he was laughed at, his father lost his temper. Simon never really got over that, and the death of his mother. He now works in a Burger bar known as Prince Burger. The problem is Simon has no social skills, he has no friends and judges everyone by what he assumes is their IQ, which he is not always correct with. He is determined to solve a famous mathematical problem that has never been solved and that’s what his life is focused on. He lives in cold squalid accommodation with no luxuries.
Jodie was passed from care home to care home from a young age, as her mum was a heroin addict. She fell pregnant at a young age and has 7 year old Zak, but the father was a bully, and had beat Jodie on a number of occasions. Jodie dreams of going to Cambridge University to study English Literature. Until he landed in jail, Jodie had escaped that life. She is doing a course a college as well as trying to raise Zak on her own. She applies for a job at Prince Burger to try and help make ends meet. One person had influenced her life when she was younger Lizzie, but Lizzie is no longer around. So Jodie wants to succeed not just for herself but also in the memory of Lizzie.
There are so many great characters in this story, I love Jodie she is determined despite some of the things thrown at her, when she starts work at Prince Burger her first meeting with Simon isn’t the best as he judges her IQ to not be very flattering. As well as a couple of other wrong moves, that Jodie is not impressed with him. She gives him the name ‘one star Simon’.
As the story progresses Jodie is trying to persuade Simon to help her prepare for her interview at Cambridge in exchange she will help him to learn some social skills. But he cannot break his routine as it will throw everything out. Despite lacking social skills Simon does seem able to some extent to relate with Zak. But can Jodie get Simon to help her? Can she help Simon?
The characters in this are all believable, and mostly likeable with the exception of a couple. It is the perfect read for a relaxing afternoon, you will chuckle, I have to admit I did shed a little tear towards the end although the story isn’t really sad, I just found a part emotional with Simon and William.
The author manages to cleverly show two sides of education in a way a child who’s childhood is taken away from him as he is pushed so hard to gain his qualifications, that he burns out, as in Simons story. Then Jodie is the opposite she is given no chances, is sent from home to home, told she will never succeed, goes through a process of rebelling to an extent because she feels she is not good enough until one person shows her kindness which goes on to change her whole outlook. Which pushes her to want to get a degree. For both characters they have to work through issues to possibly bring them some happiness in what can be a very cruel world to people who are seen as different.
If you are looking for a beautifully written character driven read you can’t go far wrong with this one. I wanted it to go on for longer and was sad to say goodbye to the characters.
A definite ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read. I would like to thank #HarperFictionPR @fictionpubteam for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah J. Harris is an author and freelance education journalist who regularly writes for national newspapers. Her debut adult novel, The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder, was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice and won the breakthrough category in the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2018. Sarah lives in London with her husband and two children.