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The Spoonie Village Book Blog - March 2021- Get a Life, Chloe Brown
Hello and welcome to our new book column! We know lots and lots of you are HUGE bookworms (energy and brainfog permitting), so we thought it’d be great to bring you a regular column talking about some of our favourite books! We’ve enlisted the help of our resident bibliophile, Olga, to take you through some of her essential Spoonie reads. So, how about we introduce her and get into this month’s book!
Hi, my name is Olga and I am a Portuguese spoonie!
I have a few conditions, most of which are comorbidities of Fibromyalgia. I make videos about life with chronic illness on YouTube, and run an Esty Shop where I hand-make hand-embroidered clothing and accessories.
I live near Lisbon with my boyfriend and our dog, Zeus, who moonlights as a doggy bow tie model. Our favourite activities are cuddling with a book and wearing matching outfits.
My chronic illness led me back to the book world, as I finally found I had the time to read all the books I had been meaning to get to but never had the time. It’s such a great way to pass the time, and to explore the world (or other worlds!) without leaving your bed or sofa. I tend to reach for mystery, fantasy and historical fiction, but honestly dip my toes into most genres.
It is wonderful to get to talk all things books with my fellow spoonies, and I hope you all enjoy my bookish ramblings!
As you get to know me through these posts, you will undoubtedly realise that diversity is very important to me. I want to read stories with POC characters, with LGBTQ+ characters, but most of all, I want to have disabled characters (and not just villains or people using disability as a plot device).
We all know how validating and wonderful it is to see ourselves in the stories being told, and it is therefore only fitting that I start this journey of book sharing with one of the books that did this for me.
Today I am going to be talking about “Get A Life, Chloe Brown” by Talia Hibbert.
The blurb of the book tells us that Chloe Brown is chronically ill, and that this story is all about her 7-step plan to “Get a Life”. She enlists the help of a handsome handyman/artist, Red, to become her rebel teacher, and away we go.
This book is very much a romance novel, and a spicy one at that. It features a fair few sex scenes, and some arguably predictable romance. It also features the most accurate depiction of a chronically ill main character I have ever encountered. Chloe is nerdy and fashionable, she’s organised and methodical, she’s a good friend, a good sister, a good cat-mum. She’s smart and funny and insecure, and real. She is trying her best to live her life to the fullest, but she also is dealing with flare ups and every day symptoms. Chronic illness is very much a part of her life, but it’s not all she is. Throughout the story, we follow Chloe through ups and downs, through good days spent having adventures and bad days stuck in bed. We experience ableism with her and we see her fight for what she wants. Oh and did I mention, Chloe is a woman of colour?! It just gets better and better, I know.
I was very excited going into this book and even though romance is not usually my go-to genre, I decided to buy the book even though I could listen to the audiobook for free, because I wanted to support a writer who was giving us a chronically ill main character. I knew from the get-go that Chloe had the same condition as me - fibromyalgia - and that just piqued my interest even more.
With every page, I felt more and more connected to her. Chloe was JUST like me - same condition, same love for animals, some excitement for lists and planning and organising, same love for cute vintage dresses! There were so many details that made this story all the more realistic for me - Chloe’s adaptive clothing, the way she didn't like asking for help even when she needed it, the brain fog!
But all of this didn't make her unworthy or unlovable. Red found her strong and passionate and fierce. He saw her limitations and respected them, and it never made him think any less of her. She was still sexy and attractive, and I think that all these little things put together made this story real, and so relatable to so many of us.
I have heard from multiple people, including myself, that they do not normally read “to be seen” (probably for lack of representation), but this book did just that. It was the first time I felt this way, felt like the author KNEW me. I think regardless of whether or not you like romance as a genre, this book was a game changer. It showed us that true representation is possible, that we are not charity cases to be pitied. That we are complex and deep, and that there is so much to every person, chronically ill or not.
Other aspects that I think made this book better were that it was really easy to read - the story moves at a steady pace, there are no confusing back and forth time lines or character point-of-views. The writing is dynamic and flows really well, and the characters are well written. They grow throughout the story, and that growth seems genuine and realistic, not at all forced. I was truly invested in the story, and was rooting for them.
On top of all this goodness, the book is available in physical form, as an e-book and as an audiobook. I personally switched between listening to the audiobook and reading the physical copy, and found the voice of the narrator really soothing. Talia is also publishing a novel for each sister in Chloe’s family, so there will be three books total. It’s not really a series though, as each book focuses on a different character, but the author has said there will be little appearances from all of them in all the books.
I don’t want to give too much away, but every single person I know who lives with chronic pain has found this book to hit really close to home, and I really cannot recommend this book enough! Honestly, you can start a counter for how many times I will mention it in future blog posts. Sorry, not sorry!
Full post reading by Jenni Pettican