The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
|The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Ben Benjamin has a hidden secret that's tearing his life apart while he's helping someone else to put theirs back together. Not a worthy-worthy type book for those who worry it is (Ben's more Vince Vaughn than Daniel Day Lewis) but one that's really funny, hugely touching, well-written and just plain amazing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: June 2013|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
Ben hasn't worked for a while and so, deciding on a career change, trains to become a caregiver. His first client is Trev, a 20 year old Duchene Muscular Dystrophy sufferer who hasn't the sunniest of dispositions. In fact Trev is angry, self-centred and goes through caregivers like a knife through milk. However, Ben, needing a job, holds on tight and tries to encourage Trev to live a little. Eventually Trev complies and dictates a way forward: a road trip. A road trip with a housebound, ill, angry person is not what Ben had in mind at all. Meanwhile it gradually becomes clear to us that Trev isn't the only one who has to learn to live a little differently.
Award–winning American author Jonathan Evison stole an afternoon I had earmarked for other things but I forgive him. I started reading The Revised Fundamentals over lunch and couldn't move till I'd finished it, making me realise that 6-out-of-5 novels do indeed exist and that this is another rare specimen.
Firstly an almost-apology: this is a very short review by my standards as I'm keeping the plot hints to a minimum for two good reasons. Firstly I want you to feel the same impact of both the smiles and the discovery that I did. Secondly my description of this novel would appear dull and lack-lustre compared to the book itself and I wouldn't want to put any of you off something that you could/may/would enjoy as immensely as I did. So what makes it this special?
There are moments of unexpected laughter that ambush us from behind the dry wit and the most wonderful road trip. A lot happens before you get there but a lot more happens during the journey as our unlikely duo attract the quirky and disadvantaged making Ben realise that caregiving comes naturally despite the battering his caring has taken in the past. There are the thought provoking moments around the insights into the battle with a life-limiting disability fought by the sufferer and anyone else that loves and suffers the sufferer (in Trev's case). Then there's that literary stomach punch. Just as we think we're ready for it and that we've been adequately prepared, in two short pages the author's talent shows us that no one can ever be ready for something like that. (Tissues at the ready; note the requirement for more than one.)
The cleverness of Mr E is proven by the fact that you're all now assuming you know what the sad bits are and how it ends. I'm keeping my promise to stay away from the plot but… well… my father taught me a rather corny saying about what happens when we 'assume'. This is one of the moments when Dad got it right.
If you've enjoyed this, try another quirky fictional journey that touches both funny bones and emotions, this time with Harold Fry.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison at Amazon.com.
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison is in the Top Ten General Fiction Books of 2013.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.