For the second year running, my first read of the year is a book from Lisa Williamson and yet again, it’s a wonderful way to start it! I’m super happy to be on the blog tour for First Day of My Life as I genuinely loved the book and enjoyed so many aspects which I will discuss below. A huge thank you to David Fickling Books and Annabelle at ed pr for gifting me a copy of the book!
Quick disclaimer to say that just because I am gifted a book, it does not mean I will give a positive review for that reason – I am always honest in my reviews/posts. I honestly adored this read and devoured it in about four hours! It kicked me right out of my reading slump and I’m so happy about that. Another note to say that I will be mentioning a couple of spoilers in the second half of the post – I really recommend not reading past that point if you haven’t yet read the book and plan to, simply because it’s one of the reasons I found it to be such a page turner! I will put a spoiler warning before I discuss them.
First Day of My Life is shown from three perspectives; Frankie, an extroverted, fierce sixteen year old; Jojo, Frankie’s quieter best friend who has disappeared at the same time a baby has been kidnapped nearby; and Ram, Frankie’s ex-boyfriend who helps her look for Jojo once she is convinced something is wrong. Jojo doesn’t turn up for her GCSE results and isn’t responding to her mum and stepmum, Frankie, or her dad. A baby is kidnapped from a nearby street and slowly but surely Frankie pieces together what she thinks has happened and enlists Ram to help her find Jojo.
I think my favourite element of the story is the friendship between the two main characters. Frankie and Jojo are opposites in many ways but their natural affinity is so beautiful to see. It felt so real and reminiscent of teenage friendships. Lisa has so wonderfully depicted that moment of realisation that I personally had as a teen that even the closest friendships are not indestructible and can break apart. It’s a very grounding and scary realisation, especially when you’re a teenager and many friendships and relationships can so often be taken for granted (not in a negative way!).
Frankie and Jojo don’t just suddenly have a communication gap because of her disappearance and secrecy – it’s well established to us that they have had a few months of avoiding topics, walking on eggshells around each other, and not sharing as much as they used to. This all comes to a head with Jojo running away. Even throughout the many revelations and difficulties however, they are always there for each other. They are fiercely loyal, and it’s clear they love each other greatly.
Ram is also a highlight for me – he is such a wonderful character! He’s so caring and the part of the book written from his perspective was so interesting to read. I didn’t initially think we would have any parts from his point of view but I’m so glad we did. It offered such a great insight into his character, his thoughts, and his personality.
Spoiler warning! Please don’t read the next few paragraphs if you haven’t read the book and don’t want to read any spoilers.
I wasn’t going to discuss spoilery bits however I have a lot of feelings about the last half of the book that I really want to write about! I initially worried that the book was going to follow a storyline that can be quite damaging in terms of representing people who have had miscarriages – however it did NOT do this at all. When reading, I assumed Jojo had a miscarriage then kidnapped a baby (while this can happen in reality, it is very rare and media portrayals of this kind of storyline are often very demonising to those who have miscarried and are dealing with trauma). It turns out however that the disappearance of Jojo and the kidnapping of the baby are unrelated and are coincidences.
Jojo has taken her own baby, Albie, away – after giving birth unexpectedly, not knowing she was even pregnant, her mum and stepmum try to convince her she is too young and they should raise her child as their own. They’ve wanted a baby together for a while and use the opportunity to their own benefit – they seem to think they are helping Jojo but also admit towards the end that they were also being selfish too and were completely unfair on her. Jojo’s actions make complete sense once we know what has happened and how she is feeling. The moment when Frankie discovers the truth – particularly that the baby is her own ex-boyfriend’s – she is angry and cannot discuss it with Jojo or Ram. I think these scenes are written so well and accurately considering the age (16-17) of the three characters. They are so young and are dealing with something that is difficult.
The connection between Jojo and Ram is so beautifully written and I couldn’t help but want them to become a couple. When it is revealed that Ram is the father of her baby, it’s a moment of panic for him but in no way is there negativity. It’s difficult for the both of them to adjust to but they are supportive of each other. Seeing how much they both step up to look after their child is wonderful – it’s clear they are still so young but that doesn’t mean they are immature and won’t be able to cope or be fantastic parents. Ram cares deeply about all those he is close to in his life, including Frankie. Though they are ex’s and there is some awkwardness between them at times, he wants her to be happy and still thinks a lot of her.
Honestly there are so many elements I thought worked fantastically. Ram’s family were wonderful, the “twist” was well thought out, the difficult storyline of the way Jojo’s mum and stepmum acted with her baby, Frankie’s insecurity about not getting into the acting academy. Too many to mention!
I’m done talking about the spoilers now – continue if you wish!
If it isn’t already clear, I highly recommend checking out Lisa’s book – if you are able to, please consider buying it from an independent bookshop! Thank you again to David Fickling Books and Annabelle at ed pr for gifting me this book and offering me the opportunity to be part of this blog tour. Check out above where else you can find First Day of My Life content as part of the tour!
Let me know if you’ve read it – I would love to chat about it if you have!