I love #BoroBooks day! Shouting out about all the brilliant authors we have in this area is definitely up there as one of my favourite things to do – especially as it means I get introduced to new writers and books along the way. I have to tell you a little secret though: I was a teeny bit nervous about this month’s book, Something Changed by Matthew Williams…as a very newly married person (December, in case you were wondering ☺️) I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to read about divorce, but as a Love Middlesbrough Lass you just gotta step up! 😂
So what exactly is Something Changed all about? It’s described as a book written to make sense of things, to find meaning in adversity, and to release the thoughts and emotions that swirl around in the face of life’s biggest upheavals – in this instance, those life events that really make the brown stuff fly around: divorce, depression and dating…
It took me a while to decide how best to review this book. As the title suggests it’s definitely not light-hearted – it talks about tough topics that a lot of people would shy away from – and it was important to me that I didn’t do it any injustice. I eventually decided that the best way to go about it was to tackle it section by section. So off we go…
It’s incredibly hard when you’re reading about such serious topics to comment on whether you “liked” it or found it enjoyable to read. I can’t imagine anyone would particularly “like” divorce and it seems to trivialise it in some way if you then try to equate any emotional feeling other than sad as you’re reading. Having said all that, there were definitely things I did like about this section. I liked the honesty (it will soon become apparent that this is an overwhelming theme throughout), the lack of sensationalism or grisly personal details that might have felt like prying, and the how-to survive guide at the end. It definitely seemed like a list that could be of great advantage to anyone who might be going through a divorce themselves, male or female – no gender bias here!
Tough. Uncomfortable. And definitely not easy to write about. As with all elements of the book, the unflinching honesty and desire to help other people going through the same thing is what makes this so special. As a reader I think it’s fair to say that how you react to this section will depend on your own experiences. I was moved to tears several times and have nothing but respect for Matthew for talking about a very tricky subject (understatement) in such a frank and open way. His motivation to raise awareness and repeat the message that it’s okay to not be okay will hopefully get through to any men who might be worried about showing ‘weakness’ or any other sort of emotion that makes them less of a man.
[Sidenote: I refer specifically to men here as the book is written from the point of view of a man. Personally, I would never think anyone was weak or less of a person for admitting they’re not okay. I firmly believe it takes enormous strength to be so honest with yourself, and then to speak it out loud to others and ask for help. If you’re one of my loved ones you can be 100% guaranteed that I’ll be there for you, no matter what.]
This was the chapter where I genuinely laughed out loud. I would bet that anyone who has found themselves single in the last 10 years or so has definitely given internet dating a try, and no doubt has some horrendous/cringe-worthy/hilarious tales to tell! I know I have (and most of my friends), and that’s what made it so funny. That awful first date where you excuse yourself to take a trip to the loo so you can frantically phone your friend and get them to ring you with some sort of emergency so you can apologise profusely while grabbing your coat and leaving immediately. The first fluttery excitement when you get a message that just might turn into something. The one who “just wants to be friends”. Yep, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
I so wanted this section to have a happy ending and for one of those cringey first dates to turn into something, but not so far…unless this has changed since the book was published… (fingers crossed for Matthew!)
The honesty and words of wisdom continue into two further chapters about being a single dad and counselling. I’m aware that I’m repeating the word honest but it absolutely is a recurring theme throughout the book and it’s one of the things I liked best about it – to go through the experiences is one thing, but to have the courage to talk so openly about them? And then share them with everyone in a book? That’s a whole other ball game.
So do I think you should read it? Yes, absolutely. For the honesty (there’s that word again), for the wise advice that just might come in handy in your own life, for the laughs and the tears, for the music references that you’ll know straightaway if you happen to be in your early 40s, and finally for the story – “love, loss, pain, hope” – it’s a journey and it’s definitely one I would recommend reading.
Buy Something Changed via Amazon or … on an interesting sidenote, if you ever find yourself in Baker Street Kitchen check out the small shelf near the specials board – they have copies for sale as the book was written there!