The Man I Think I Know

MITHIKEver since ‘the incident’, James DeWitt has stayed on the safe side.

He likes to know what happens next.

Danny Allen is not on the safe side. He is more past the point of no return.

The past is about to catch up with both of them in a way that which will change their lives forever, unexpectedly.

But redemption can come in the most unlikely ways.

Phil: I’ve been rubbish at reading recently. Too busy. Too tired. I just want to slump at the end of the day. I know I’ll enjoy doing something different, but I just can’t be bothered.

A rare train ride presented me with some time to crack open this book. 48 hours later, I’d finished it. The words slid down as easily a glass of chocolate milk. (You many sustitute your own drink of choice, but I like chocolate flavour milk.)

Mike Gayle tells the story of James DeWitt, a high-flyer brought crashing down after an incident in a nighclub. Left badly mentally scarred, he needs looking after. His parents have taken on the task, but they are stiffling him.

Danny Allen is also damaged, and has thrown away the benefits of a “good” education. He doesn’t have anything to look forward too. In desperperation, the DSS force him to become a carer, and through work, he meets James.

What follows is a story of redemption and recovery. Most reviews make the point that the book centres on a caring male freindship and that’s true. Very few female characters play much of a part. Normally, this would be seen as a bad thing, or at least odd, but here it’s perfectly natural. There’s no love between the main characters, but a mutual need.

It also exposes a sad fact – some people end up working in care homes because they have no other options. It’s badly paid hard work. Sadly, society doesn’t value a person who ends up wiping anothers backside. Yes, many people will be drawn to a “caring” profession, but others just find themselves at the bottom of the pile and really shouldn’t be there. It’s a subtle, but savage inditement of how little we care about those who need help either through age, or disability.

This is feelgood reading, but with a message. You are rooting for all the characters pretty much from the start. Mike Gayle dangles a few mysteries, such as the incidents that caused James and Danny to be where they are in life to keep the interest up, but never over-eggs this. You are reading because the writing is good, not to resolve the false jeapordy. Everything is written in the first person, which means James has natural sounding, slighly odd, disjointed speach, but it never gets in the way.

There’s a lot of pride involved, something appropriate to male characters. Both need help, but don’t want to reach out for it. When they do, mainly through the goading of the other, their lives start to imporove.

There’s a message in there.

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