Not too deeply within me lurks a bibliotherapist. I strongly believe in the importance of fiction in mental health and its ability to support and heal- when a carefully chosen text connects with the reader at the right time. I have done the odd course on this and it is something I may wish to pursue further in the future. I think its most potent power works subconsciously and positive change can be brought about in implicit connections between the text and the reader. The thing that makes this a knotty area is just like with the development of a reader where it is never the same books that propel the fledging reader into a life-long bookaholic so not every book with the potential to heal would work with each individual.
It was with an open mind that I approached this debut which has a strong critical pre-publication buzz. I just know that in future months there will be people saying how much this book has helped them, the issue of grief is central and here it is turned into a very commercial read. But, as I said above, I don’t think everyone who begins this book would get as much out of it but it is certainly worth giving it a go.
Newly widowed Isaac has reached his lowest point when he encounters a creature in the woods. “The Egg” felt like one of those Furby toys in my mind, the author likens it to an abominable snowman painted on a hard-boiled egg by a child. The Egg is taken home and over time helps Isaac begin to cope with the total collapse of his life. There is a mystery which builds up which kept this reader going when the shenanigans between Man and Egg begin to grate (which they occasionally did and which may be the point where readers give up).
There are references which we will be aware of which the author is right to make explicit, especially so to “ET”, when scenes feel reminiscent the author cannily acknowledges this. Links to popular films are used as a device here as Isaac and Egg spend much time watching these.
I do feel (and I am acknowledging the bad pun here ) that at times the author has over-egged his tale and you might not look at beans on toast the same way again but these tragi-slapstick moments do give it a very filmic quality which suggests a film/tv adaptation wouldn’t be out of the question. The writing is lively and of a good quality which suggests Bobby Palmer is a writer to be reckoned with, and an attention-grabbing debut is a very shrewd introduction. This is also a gift of a book for reading group discussions. I this if is the first time you have heard about this make a mental note as I think novel and author are about to make an impact.
Issac and The Egg is published by Headline Review on 18th August 2022 . Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the advance review copy.