A delightful story with vibrant characters and a British touch. I loved the whole idea of this story and its concept. Dealing with a serious issue, but done very sensitively, leading to an entertaining and fascinating read.
Jasper is a hoarder; he hoards books in his house until he can hardly get into any of the rooms in the house. It’s also a dangerous and life threatening situation; one book avalanche and he could be buried forever if not seriously injured. After adding one book to another one of his mountainous piles it collapses and makes entry to that room impossible, blocking the door. He realises he needs help and rings a company that are specialists in such things. Enter Lewis and his twin sister Carroll. Lewis is a psychologist and helps with the emotional upheaval with people like Jasper, dealing with what they experience when having to let go of their possessions. His sister is a counsellor and also deals with the house clearing process.
When I started reading about Jasper although he has a problem with hoarding I couldn’t help but endear myself to him immediately. Jo’s writing brings characters to life and I immediately connected with Jasper. He is helpless and lost, a bit of a nerd, a loner with a heart, the type of person I just wanted to cuddle and make everything alright for him.
When reading about his hoarding problem with books I must admit I did reflect on myself and books. All I can say is thank goodness for the electronic possibilities and my e-reader. When I look at my to-read list, it made me reflect what my house would look like if I had all those books in paperback form. My house probably wouldn’t look a lot better either. Jasper has a reverence for books and some of his attitudes I couldn’t help but agree with.
This is a serious illness, but Jo writes about it so sensitively it just wants to make you help Jasper too. We find out later in the book that his hoarding problem stems from a much more deep rooted problem concerning his relationship to his mother. When he bears all later to Jasper I almost cried reading about what he experienced and had to go through. No young man should ever have experienced what Jasper did. Especially not at an age where he should be out enjoying himself and spending time with friends. There was even some good all round advice for everyone in this book.
Can’t argue with that! Good piece of advice there for myself.
When Lewis and Carroll arrive on the scene the attraction between Lewis and Jasper is there, but as Jasper is a client Lewis is determined to keep a professional distance. Although it is obvious that Lewis is good for Jasper and they would fit together perfectly, Lewis always tries to keep the moral high ground professionally. They also realise that they knew each other in school, but more Jasper admiring Lewis from a distance as Lewis was out in school and Jasper not. As the attraction grows and becomes undeniable Lewis's internal conflict increases and it takes Jasper to make him see what he is feeling, leading Jasper a merry dance all the way. Lewis can’t accept what is staring him in the face and comes up with half-baked plans and excuses to deal with it! Even his sister, mum and best friend, Brandon, also give Lewis an ear bashing to get his act sorted out otherwise he might lose the best thing that has ever happened to him. There were times I could have slapped Lewis myself due to pure frustration and exasperation!
Lewis’s parents are academics and completely “hippy” in their attitudes, among other compromising views they have on life. Always a source of embarrassment for Carroll and Lewis as kids growing up and continuing into adulthood! However, there’s no denying the love that the family has for each other. Jasper is invited to lunch to meet them. Well, Chapter 25 turned out to be one of my personal highlights in the book. This is the stuff a good British sitcom is made of. Absolutely delightful! This chapter left me literally gasping for air after fits of laughter. I was still giggling to myself for days after.
Another character that plays a role is Yusef the café owner down the road. He is as large as life and is very much part of Jasper’s world. Later Jasper is to learn he played a bigger part in his life than he ever gave Yusef credit for.
As Jasper starts to get to grips with his life and shows progress which for him is a big deal, it at this point Lewis becomes impossible. Almost a nice reversal in roles, but Jasper’s tenacity wins through in the end!
The characters in this book are vibrant, pithy and really jump out of the pages. You can love every single one of them. I loved the “Britishness” of this book, as a Brit myself it’s like a breath of fresh air, loveable characters and situations I can really relate to. They are normal guys, not honed, not chiselled, no six-packs, no bulging biceps / triceps or any other kind of ‘ceps’ for that matter. Japser and Lewis are just down-to-earth, normal people managing life’s trials and tribulations, falling in love and trying to get through everyday. However, in the usual and mundane we can always discover the unusual and special.
The plot develops and unfolds at a nice speed and I found myself willing Jasper on in his fight to get his life back into order and find a new beginning; leaving the junk, phyiscal and emotional, of his past behind. This takes a lot of strength and sometimes everyone needs the love and support of people close to them.
Jo manages to write extremely sensitively about the very difficult issue of hoarding, that affects many people, with heartfelt tenderness and empathy for those struggling or trying to find a way out of their hoarding problem. It’s all too easy for society to turn their noses up at such people, but I’m personally sure this has become an illness of our times and has become worse in the last few decades as we have more possessions, have become more materialistic and are becoming an ever increasingly disposable society. All Jasper wanted to do was rescue the books and the wonderful literature and information contained within.
This book is wonderful – go read it!Jo will be joining us for an interview and giveaway over on Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews on the release day of Junk on 27th August 2013. I’ll be putting her through her paces and have lots of questions about the book and other things, pop on over to get the gossip.~ This book was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review ~