This is How – M J Hyland

This is a book that’s strength is in the writing. It has an inconspicuous title and cover and even the way the author presents her name, with initials, I think is simple and understated and I liked that. When I saw it in the library I recognised it from the Orange longlist, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have thought to read it.

The story is about Patrick, a 23 year old who seems much younger. He is intelligent and thoughtful but anxious and inappropriate around other people. Narrated in the first person, Patrick’s story is split into two distinct parts. In the first we meet him as he starts his new life in a seaside town boarding house and struggles to interact with the people around him. There is something naieve and sad about Patrick and a hint of something more disturbing. His voice though is very real. We learn that he has struggled with relationships in the past.

Then an extreme, violent event occurs and the second part of the book deals with the aftermath of that and how the characters cope with it. It is a very moving story, full of things to think about afterwards. It’s about personal responsibililty and freedom, about how a person copes or doesn’t with their daily lives and the fine line that divides the two.

This is the second book I have read from this years Orange Longlist along with The Lacuna which made the shortlist but This is How didn’t. I think both of these books are great but so different. I imagine it must be really hard for the judges to compare and come up with a shortlist and then a winner – I shall look out for that with interest.

2009, 320 pages

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14 responses to “This is How – M J Hyland

  1. Choosing the Orange short list must be really hard, but I’d love that job! I was surprised that this didn’t make the short list, but I haven’t read the books that books that did yet. I hope to read most of them in the next month. If they are all better than this then I’m in for a very good month of reading!

  2. I’m very glad that this was on the longlist. With such a plain title and design I probably wouldn’t have pulled this one off the shelf otherwise.

    I’m a little disappointed it didn’t make the shortlist, but at least I’ve discovered an interesting author with a backlist to investigate.

    • Fleur – I agree. I would never have picked it up either if I hadn’t recognised it from the longlist and it’s always exciting to discover a new author especially when they have written several books!

  3. There’s something very sad and haunting about that cover.

  4. I enjoyed this greatly. I think its the best description I’ve read of what it must be like to have to go to prison. In my review I wrote, “If anyone wonders what it is like to have to go to prison this book will tell them, such is the vividness of the writing that you can almost smell the prison and feel the sense of restriction on a 23 hour lock-up”. Quite how the author managed to achieve this I don’t know – I will look our for more from M J Hyland I think!

    • Tom – the whole book was so well written wasn’t it even though both halves were quite different. I will also be looking out for more of M J Hylands books. Glad you enjoyed it too.

  5. You might want to use M. J. Hyland in your Aussie Challenge. She only recently relocated to London, but is a true Aussie. I haven’t read “This is How” yet, but loved Hyland’s other two books. Looking forward to reading this now.

    • Tony – thanks for pointing out that M J Hyland is an Aussie author. I didn’t know that but will definitely include this in the challenge. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it – sounds like you will!

  6. I enjoyed your review and will be adding this to my TBR list. Thanks.

  7. Hi Tracey,

    This book is on my TBR shelf and am glad I got your review to read! I will lay my hands on it soon! And nice blog you have here too šŸ™‚

    Birdy from Lifewordsmith

  8. Hi Swati (Birdy),

    Thank you and hope you enjoy it when you get to read it. Thank you also for taking the time to comment. I will pop over to your blog.

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