Only Hummingbirds Fly Backwards by Rosie Parker

Ronnie and Jake are twins – obviously not identical, but close as. They even have that twin intuition thing going on. Ronnie lives with her soon-to-be husband Gerry and new-born baby, and Jake is happily married with two daughters. One sunny April day, he hops onto somebody else’s motorbike to ride home when a horrific crash leaves him lying brain injured on the road. On hearing the news Ronnie rushes to Jake’s bedside. Having once been a physiotherapist, she knows it’s bad, and her life threatens to crack apart as she begs him to return to her.

Fifteen months later, it’s suggested by Jake’s wife that the two families go away to Brittany, France, on holiday. But surely, it’s too soon, thinks Ronnie. The tensions and events which follow threaten to rock both Ronnie’s marriage and her relationship with her sister-in-law, as she tries to reach Jake. And when secrets from their past begin to surface, will Ronnie seek comfort from another man?

At the heart of it all is Jake, who is more than her brother, he is her twin. Once they floated side by side in their mother’s womb. Can Ronnie somehow remind him of the person he once was, or is he changed forever?

The world turns with or without them, a butterfly flaps its wings, and only hummingbirds fly backwards.

Please check out the other reviews too.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Random Things Tours and the Book Guild for the opportunity to read and review this debut novel for the blog tour.

This is an emotional read. Jake and Ronnie are twins and life was going well. Until Jake had a bike accident, leaving him with a brain injury few thought he would survive. Jake did survive, and fifteen months later Jake, Ronnie and their immediate families travel to France for a holiday.

A holiday is meant to be a relaxing time, however three of the adults (Ronnie, Angie and Gerry) don’t appear to be relaxing. Ronnie and Gerry have financial and relationship issues, and Angie finds herself being a sole parent to their girls, as Jake struggles to remember what to do.

Ronnie’s narration of the holiday moves back and forwards in time, thinking about life before the accident and dealing with the tension of how all their relationships have changed since the accident. Is it wrong to keep hoping things will improve? This is a non spoiler review, so you will need the book to find out more.

A thought provoking look at how the events of a day changed the lives of the close family of Jake, including the grief of the lost expected future, jealousy and embarrassment, and issues of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Happy to recommend this well written debut novel.

Author Bio:

Rosie Parker had a portfolio career including physiotherapy, medical rehabilitation and disability research, before returning to her first love, creative writing. She now has an MA in Creative Writing and is a tutor in Creative Writing at The Open University. A spoken word performer and novelist, Rosie writes in her blue shed on a hill overlooking the Bristol Channel. Rosie Parker identifies as a disabled author living with Hypermobile- Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and this is her debut novel.

Rosie says, “This book had its genesis back in 1988 when my own brother had a motorbike accident
leaving him brain damaged. Even though I’d been a physiotherapist, nothing prepared me for the reality. Although based on my notes and journals at the time, this is a piece of fiction I wanted to write from a sister’s perspective, as we’re often the family members who are left out. I wanted to convey how one has to find a way to cope with brain injury when there’s nothing to compare. The person is not dead, so there is no closure – at times it’s like an open emotional wound. My aim is for this book to be a celebration of love and the human spirit. I hope it has warmth and is full of human failings and triumphs and foibles and mistakes. It’s one about forgiveness, too – and always about love.”

By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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