Hugo and Helen’s journey touched my soul

58914491._SY475_Bring Me Home by Nicola Haken

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nicola Haken has a small catalogue of books but every one of them has touched me deep in my soul.

Bring Me Home is no exception, in fact it’s one of the rawest in terms of how mental illness can distort your world view and make you feel like you’re worthless even when you’re a mega famous rock star.

Hugo broke my heart, his autism adds another dimension to his mental health issues but it’s never made to be a defining issue.

His autism isn’t what causes Hugo’s life to start collapsing around him, it’s the depression he’s never really found a way to handle – not since he left his best friend Helen behind eight years ago that is.

Helen is one of life’s rocks. She’s grounded, although she’s not without issues herself, and she’s tried to put the past behind her. After losing her mother, she’s facing life truly on her own and forging ahead with a determination that is inspiring. She’s strong, but ultimately flawed like all of us.

This book tells a story which takes the reader on a journey through forgiveness, through understanding and reconnecting. It walks the path of two best friends who have always been everything to each other and perhaps more.

It pulls no punches when it deals with the insidious way that depression and mental health issues can distort your world view until there seems to be no way forward.

But it is also filled with joy, with hope, with understanding and with people who will provide the foundations on which a new path can be built. There is no cure for depression or autism or mental health dysfunctionality.

There is, however, structured methods for how to deal with it, there’s support networks, medication which can help to provide an even keel. There’s love, so much love, more than Hugo realised he was surrounded by.

Phoebe, Hugo’s superb therapist, describes his brain as a computer with a virus and herself and his IT gal, there to help him reboot his neurons and put them back in the right place. I thought this absolutely nailed it perfectly.

It helps Hugo understand that he has done nothing wrong. It’s not a choice he made, it’s a hand he’s been dealt and she’s there to provide him with all the support to find the right way to play it.

I loved her almost as much as I loved Helen. Ezra, Hugo’s bodyguard, is also a fabulous person, he’s there in the background, a sort of older brother/father figure. Drew, his manager, while a flawed character capable of making mistakes, is also doing everything he does from a place of love. Their relationship is turbulent but ultimately supportive.

And Chrissie, someone who starts as a sort of throwaway figure, who Helen isn’t sure she’s even really friends with, provides not only some levity to the narrative but support for Helen and is, without any doubt, a best friend, someone she can turn to at the darkest times.

I think what I loved the most about this book is that the falling in love bit was so natural. Hugo and Helen are each other’s forever and it’s been clear from the time they met, aged just four. The things which separated them on the way, only served to make them stronger.

Be aware of the warnings. This book covers heavy subjects, there are triggers for depression, for drug use (prescription not illegal), for desperate measures when all seems lost, for inpatient treatment at a clinic.

Ultimately, though, it’s a beautiful story about love, about soulmates, about walking a path together in the best way you can. It’s an authentic journey, told with real voices and I loved it.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

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