Title: How I Got Here
Author: Hannah Harvey
Released: 18th July 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
The past few weeks I’ve just been getting through the days, barely keeping up with all the work I have and the few times I’m free not really feeling in the mood to read. Finally, knowing that I had a huge number of books to get through, I pulled myself together and started reading How I Got Here. All I can say is, thank God it was a Friday. Once I started this, I could not stop.
How I Got Here is the story of 18 year old River Lee. Stuck in hospital for anorexia, she remains silent and lives in her own thoughts. The doctors can’t understand her behaviour and soon give up on trying…that is, until Oliver comes along. Sensing that she’s had a harder time than anyone realises, he helps River work through her past and gets her to explain just how she got here.
Normally, I wouldn’t read a book about anorexia. I didn’t realise that would be a part of it when I started this. Normally, I probably wouldn’t even think twice about picking it up if I’d just happened to see the cover. Luckily for me, I did read the synopsis and decided to read it. Let me tell you, what’s inside this book is beautiful. The first thing that I loved was how it was structured. The story alternates between a letter from River and Oliver’s point of view, carrying on until the letters are over and it’s just POVs. I found that it really worked; it enabled River to convey both her past and what she was feeling at the time she was writing it, and then we’d get to see Oliver’s thoughts and more of his own life as he was dealing with her case. River was quite a strong character, not only because she’d survived what had happened to her, but also because she knew what she had to do to get better, both physically and emotionally; she didn’t keep putting herself over others, and she actually brought in some humour. The way she wrote the letters really had me feeling for her.
Through River’s past, this book tackles quite a few significant issues, but at the same time not making it too heavy. It really drives home the effect bullying can have, and like River, I couldn’t believe how ridiculous the trigger for it was. I’m not sure whether it was too ridiculous to be realistic, but at the same time I’m pretty sure there are people out there who are just like Kim, the girl who starts making River’s life hell. I was also shocked at her family and the way they were just completely oblivious. Her mother’s behaviour at one point was completely unexpected; where I thought that the allegations and supposed ‘evidence’ against her had been faked by the bullies, it was actually true for once and I couldn’t believe she’d done that. River’s brother was the opposite of unhelpful, and her father infuriatingly chose to believe there wasn’t any problem. I did get quite a mixed view of him, however, as towards the end it did seem as if he grew to understand what his daughter needed.
I also found myself rooting for Oliver and River as a couple. Theirs isn’t a traditional type of relationship and actually reminded me of Sebastian and Alison in Ultraviolet. I just loved how Oliver actually took the time to know her and didn’t keep pushing her for information. His sister irritated me to no end and I was glad when he’d finally had enough after realising what she’d done. For the last part of the book every time I pressed the ‘next’ button on my Kindle I’d just keep looking at how far I was from the end, watching it get closer and closer to 100% and wondering how much further it could possible go on before I got the ending I wanted in terms of their relationship. Harvey sure doesn’t mind cutting it close, but I guess that’s half the fun. ;)
This isn’t your average book dealing with the kinds of issues River faced, and I do think a lot of that was due to the structure and way the relationship was crafted. Because of that I really enjoyed it. Again, I did have a big issue with all the grammatical errors, so this could do with a lot of polishing. If you look at the story itself, however, the events and the emotions going on, this is definitely a worthwhile read.
A big thank you to the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.