How To Be Brave by Louise Beech

Published in paperback on the 17th September by Orenda. It is also available as an e - book. My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my copy of the book.

All the stories died that morning ... until we found the one we’d always known. 

When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. 

Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. 

A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love ...  and what it really means to be brave.

My Thoughts:

I will start by saying everything about this book is absolutely beautiful. Initially I was drawn in by the distinctive and quite stunning visual on the cover. I was also fascinated by the outline of the story and wondered how it was possible to merge the past with the present. Rest assured it works, it really, really works. 

This is Colin's story, it is also Natalie and Rose's story. When Rose is diagnosed with diabetes it is up to Natalie to help her young daughter through. Although not surrounded by water like Colin, the times are turbulent and choppy for them. It will take them a certain kind of strength and bravery to make it through. 

Natalie decides to use Colin's story of his time at sea as a distraction during Rose's treatment and together with Colin they find their way to land, unified and no longer afloat on a mass of emotions and anxiety. 

The writing is spectacular, the author has a real gift for storytelling, that is rare. Perhaps, because it is based on facts it seems all the more real.

For me, it was Colin's story, his bravery and time at sea, that touched me the most. The author managed to create a sense of time and place with immaculate skill. You could almost feel the salt water spray on your skin and sense the endless days drawing out. This is where the most poignancy in the story lie for me. 

I was staggered to learn that this is the Authors debut novel. It was so assured, so well written and I felt privileged to read it, as if I too had been on a journey that will stay with me.

We can all be brave when it is needed most, it takes courage and people around us to survive. The human spirit can be indomitable. 

Please read this, I defy you not to be moved in some way too.

About the Author:
Louise has always been haunted by the sea, and regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull - the UK's 2017 City of Culture. She loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums' Army on Lizzie and Carl's BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show. This is her first book.
You can follow her on Twitter: @LouiseWriter


  1. This sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it very much. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for visiting. I really hope that you can take something from it as I did.