Thursday 14 February 2019

Senseless by Anna Lickley @annal_writes Blog Tour @Unbound_Digital #Senseless @unbounders

Beth's partner, Dan, inexplicably vanishes from her life and nine years later she is still struggling. In the intervening years, she has learnt British Sign Language (BSL) and got what she thought would be her dream job, supporting deaf students in college. However, she finds she still feels dissatisfied with just about everything: from working life to sex life, domestic life to social life, it's as if the traumas of her past will forever mar her future. Through her work, Beth meets a group of strong-minded, pragmatists who show her how they've adapted to challenges of having a disability. Is Dan's disappearance the primary source of Beth's sadness? Can her new friends help to shift her perspective on dealing with life? Will learning BSL prove to be significant after all? And what really happened to Dan? The answers may be quite unexpected. The themes and characters of Senseless are moulded by the challenges of deafness and disability but the book is not `about' disability per se. More succinctly, it's about ordinary people bumping through the ups and downs of life like we all are.

Senseless by Anna Lickley was published by Unbound Digital on 17 January 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

At around 200 pages, Senseless is a fairly short read, but it's also a very cleverly structured and quite complex story that deals with many relevant modern-day issues.

Lead character Beth is a troubled woman. The story opens as she returns home after a day at the job that she hates to find that her boyfriend Dan has gone. Beth had no prior warning, she thought they were happy. Dan has left a one-line note that explains nothing and Beth is devastated.

The author then takes us forward nine years and we find that although Beth has changed jobs and is now a support worker in a college; using her British Sign Language skills to assist pupils with hearing difficulties, she is still not happy. Whilst she enjoys helping her pupils, she is no fan of the staff politics and every day seems to be something of a struggle for her.

Running alongside Beth's story, we learn about Sam, who when we first meet him, is a firefighter with a partner and a new baby. However, Sam is not well and when he's given a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, his life changes forever. Not only does he eventually lose his job, but his little family is also broken apart.

Anna Lickley writes with knowledge and passion about characters with disabilities. However, she also make them appear incredibly real. There's no sugar coating here. Beth is a character who can be difficult to understand at times. She drinks too much, she has lots of casual sex with men that she meets online and she swears like a trooper. 

Beth and Sam's stories gradually begin to merge as characters are introduced that are connected to each of them and when they eventually do meet, it's not all plain sailing at first. As a reader, I was particularly interested in the flash backs to Beth's earlier life, and the author cleverly weaves these throughout the story, enabling the reader to grasp some of the reasons for Beth's behaviour.

Senseless is a carefully written story that both entertains and informs and I enjoyed reading it. Anna Lickley's style of writing is modern and completely relevant. This is a great novel and I'd highly recommend it. 

Anna's adult life has been moulded a great deal by challenges on her physical health and needing to adapt to them. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) in the 1980s when she was 16. NF2 is a complex genetic illness involving benign tumours developing on nerves throughout the body, usually in the brain or spine. As a result, she went deaf whilst at University and began to learn British Sign Language to help with communication. She loved the language immediately and went on to became fluent enough to teach it. In the last 5 years, Anna's vision has deteriorated and she is now registered deafblind. That and other health complications led her to stop working. Although sad to leave a job she loved, she is now relishing having more time to write and much of her writing is greatly influenced by her desire to share the realities of living with disability. Anna wrote and self-published a semi-autobiographical novel called Catch it Anytime You Canin 2012 and has in mind a title and plot outline for a further novel. She is in-house writer for Can You Hear Us CIC, a social enterprise dedicated to the needs of people with NF2 and also loves writing poetry, short stories and articles. Senseless is her first full-length work of fiction. Outside of writing, she loves horse riding and competes at dressage with the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association)

Twitter @annal_writes

No comments:

Post a Comment