Book Reviews

The Best Medicine – Christine Hamill – Book Review

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The Best Medicine by Christine Hamill – Book Review by Emily Elphinstone

It’s often said that ‘laughter is the best medicine’, but few feel so much pressure to prove this theory as 12 year old Philip Wright in new YA novel ‘The Best Medicine.’

Suddenly everything in his life is going wrong: The Yeti seems to lurk around every corner, ready to steal his lunch money and make him late for class; The Goddess doesn’t know he exists; and on top of that, his Mum has started acting really weird…she isn’t even laughing at his jokes any more! When it transpires that the reason behind his Mum’s moods is Cancer, and even worse ‘Breast’ Cancer (a mortifying word for any young boy), Philip has no other option than to turn to his comedy hero Harry Hill for advice, in a series of letters which are interspersed throughout the book.

Christine Hamill’s debut novel is a remarkably confident book, not shying away from the intricacies of the disease; or the importance of humour despite it. Philip may be dealing with the challenges of first love, poetry, and friendship troubles, on top of an increasingly fraught home life; but for aspiring comedians each challenge is an opportunity to test out new material.

Written from Philip’s point of view in a realistically confessional tone, the reader is drawn directly inside the action, and by the final chapter he seems like a real friend. ‘The Best Medicine’ may tackle a sensitive subject, which is a source of trauma for many (and that’s just the first love bit); but it does so in a reassuringly accessible and life-affirming way. Ultimately far more than a book about an illness, ‘The Best Medicine’ is a heart-warming and satisfying read, which will keep both adults and children engaged to the very end.

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