Friday 16 September 2022

When Things Are Alive They Hum by Hannah Bent BLOG TOUR #WhenThingsAreAliveTheyHum #HannahBent @ultimopress @RandomTTours #BookReview


When Things Are Alive They Hum poses profound questions about the nature of love and existence, the ways grief changes us, and how we confront the hand fate has dealt us.

Marlowe and Harper share a bond deeper than most sisters, shaped by the loss of their mother in childhood. For Harper, living with what she calls the Up syndrome and gifted with an endless capacity for wonder, Marlowe and she are connected by an invisible thread, like the hum that connects all things. For Marlowe, they are bound by her fierce determination to keep Harper, born with a congenital heart disorder, alive.

Now 25, Marlowe is finally living her own life abroad, pursuing her studies of a rare species of butterfly secure in the knowledge Harper’s happiness is complete, having found love with boyfriend, Louis. But then she receives the devastating call that Harper’s heart is failing. She needs a heart transplant but is denied one by the medical establishment because she is living with a disability. Marlowe rushes to her childhood home in Hong Kong to be by Harper’s side and soon has to answer the question – what lengths would you go to save your sister?

Intensely moving, exquisitely written and literally humming with wonder, it is a novel that celebrates life in all its guises, and what comes after.

When Things Are Alive They Hum by Hannah Bent is published by Ultimo Press on 15 September 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, a part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

Marlowe and Harper are sisters and are particularly close. Their mother died when they were younger and Marlowe has always been protective of Harper. 

Harper has Down Syndrome, although she prefers to call it Up Syndrome. 

Marlowe is currently in the UK, studying for her PHD, whilst Harper remains at home in Hong Kong, living with her father and 'stepmonster', and her grandmother. She's loved very much, her boyfriend Louis adores her and Marlowe has a very positive outlook on life. However, she's been in hospital recently because her heart is 'broken'. She has a congenital heart defect and previously, the doctors have always been able to fix her, this time is different, they don't seem to want to help.

Harper writes to Marlowe, and asks her to come home, to make it all better, because that's what Marlowe does. 

Harper's letter to Marlowe is incredibly tender and really quite frightening. Marlowe returns home, determined to help and finds that the doctors are refusing a heart transplant, and that's entirely because Harper is Downs. No other reason. 

This is a well written novel, although can tend toward the overly sweet at times, but does deal with so many issues faced by the most vulnerable in society. Marlowe is an intelligent woman, but her heart has certainly ruled her head here and she makes decisions that are often difficult to bear, yet the reader knows exactly why she does this. 

I enjoyed the way that the author structured her story, giving the point of view of both Marlowe and Harper, enabling us to see how their minds work, and showing the differences between them so well. I also appreciated the cultural references throughout the book, learning things about Hong Kong and Shanghai that were interesting and added depth to the story. 

A debut novel from an author to watch, that covers many themes and concentrates on the loyalty and love of siblings. 

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hannah Bent completed her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and Film from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London. 

She undertook further study in both directing and screenwriting at the Australian Film and Television and Radio School and has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. 

She was the 2013 recipient of the Ray Koppe Young Writers Award for her novel as a work in progress.

Instagram: @hannahbent_author 

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