My Life as a Bench

My Life as a BenchMy Life as a Bench by Jaq Hazell
Published by Nowness Books on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 234
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This book was one of the most unique books I have read in a long long time.

Ren (Lauren) Miller has died tragically at the age of Seventeen. Her soul/consciousness lives on in a memorial park bench, by the river Thames, that her father bought in her Memory. Ren thinks mainly of her boyfriend Gabe who she misses. She spends her days wondering why he does not visit her as her family does. She also soon learns that the park bench next to her is inhabited by an older man named Lionel.

Her conversations with Lionel really shine for me. I loved how they talked about her life and he helped her cope with her situation and slowly begins to share more about his life with her. These conversations were my favorite parts of the book. I like how he helps her accept her situation and gently encourages her to remember what happened the night she died.

Through Lionel’s encouragement, Ren attempts to make contact with people stopping by or visiting her bench. She speaks to everyone and there are some that do hear her. Naturally they are freaked out by this. Hearing a voice speaking to you and not seeing anyone can be spooky and make one question their mental state. Eventually Ren learns why Gabe has not visited and this motivates her more than anything to reach out and get a message about what really happened the night she died.

There have been many YA books where the female protagonist has died and she is trying to figure out what happened to her: how she died, who killed her, etc. This book is similar in that Ren cannot remember right away everything that happened leading up to her death. She remembers slowly over time, until the final “reveal” occurs. What worked for me was that, while reading this book, it never seemed absurd that she would inhabit/inhibit the bench. The idea was so unique but it worked!!!!!

Since the beginning of time, there has been talk about what really happens after we die. In this book, Ren and Lionel live on in memorial park benches. I really enjoyed the Author’s unique approach of the after life or what happens to us after we die.

Her relationship with Gabe could have been flushed out more. She seemed to be much more into him than he was into her. He seemed unavailable and distant for most of their relationship . I realize this is YA and teens do tend to fall head over heels very fast.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – this book is unique and that is a good thing(OMG did I just channel Martha Stewart in my review?) But seriously the uniqueness of this book worked for me.

I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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