I never paid much attention to this sort of book – aimed at women from ages 15 and up, I’d cynically assumed that they wouldn’t have great content. Bubblegum for the eyes, I have read a few that really were just ways to switch off my brain. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I’ve often enjoyed picking up a book knowing I can just drift into a rom-com movie in my head and not need to engage too much energy.
I admit that I expected The Story of You to be one of the same. I’d heard good things about it, and was keen to get involved, but thought it wouldn’t be particularly memorable. I’m the first person to admit that I was wrong. Very, very wrong. This book is so much more than just a way to while away a few hours. It hit me harder, probably because I hadn’t thought it could. And for that reason, I’ve found it poignant and incredibly important.
Robyn fell pregnant at 16, shortly after the death of her mother, and her whole life changed – for the worst it seemed. 16 years later, it’s like de ja vu. All of a sudden, the little life she’s created for herself begins to crumble, and she finds everything she thought she knew unravelling before her eyes.
What struck me most was the gritty honesty with which Katy Regan fills every page. Nothing is held back – we see the raw emotion we feel every day, but immortalised in black and white. Robyn is a mental health nurse, but finds her own mind drifting down a dark path. She vocalises every fear that I have myself. Fears about life, about pregnancy, about health. All those things I barely admit to myself let alone anyone else, and when I see them written in front of my eyes, I can’t help but feel touched.
Katy Regan has found a way to make her readers see themselves in her book. Not in a clichéd way where the heroine is a blank canvas. Far from it – Robyn is complex, deep, emotional, and a mess. But she thinks like me. Acts like me. Thinks and acts like the majority of my female friends. And for that reason, this book saw me laughing and (nearly) crying, comforted to see someone go through what I fear most, and come out the other side the stronger for it.
This is an unexpected gem. Unexpected because I thought it would be just another chick-lit, but it turned out to be an astonishing insight into the parts of us we hide from the world… until we can’t hide any more. It’s the story of you, the story of me, and the story of so many more.