Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Life as a Bench” as Want to Read:
My Life as a Bench
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My Life as a Bench

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  223 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Ren Miller has died at age seventeen, and yet her consciousness lives on, inhabiting her memorial bench by the River Thames in London. Ren longs to be reunited with her boyfriend Gabe but soon discovers why he has failed to visit. Devastated, she must learn to break through and talk to the living so she can reveal the truth about her untimely end.
Kindle Edition, 234 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Nowness Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Life as a Bench, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Life as a Bench

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  223 ratings  ·  82 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of My Life as a Bench
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was one of the most unique books I have read in a long long time.

Ren (Lauren) Miller has died tragically at the age of Seventeen. Her soul/consciousness lives on in a memorial park bench, by the river Thames, that her father bought in her Memory. Ren thinks mainly of her boyfriend Gabe who she misses. She spends her days wondering why he does not visit her as her family does. She also soon learns that the park bench next to her is inhabited by an older man named Lionel.

Her conversatio
Eve beinguniquebooks
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The title of the book made me wonder just how this book was going to be. It was amazing in my opinion! A totally different and wild out there title that viewing now I realise combines life and death in one.

When someone passes away often a bench is left dedicated to them in a certain place, people living will still us the bench. That happens in the book certainly, just with our main character Lauren or best referred to as Ren being a soul like presence at her bench dedicated to her from her famil
I received this an e-arc of this book via netgalley and provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Guys guys guys! This book!
Let me tell you that this book is not perfect. But, somehow it works its way to my heart.
If you asked me to explain this book in one word: weird! But it was so weirdly interesting that you just want to read it till the end.

The goods:
-Very interesting and intriguing concept. I have never read anything like this before. I mean, live on after death as a b
Alissa H.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'd like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC of this book! Review is now up on Diva Reads! ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Via my blog:

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review of this book...
May 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: discarded-shelf
Thought it was gonna be fun and original. Its neither.
Karen • The Book Return
Read this review and more on my blog.The Book Return BlogI received this book for free from Publisher (via YA Books Central) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Seventeen year old Lauren 'Ren' Miller has just died. She finds that her spirit lives on inside her own memorial bench. Although the story is called, 'My Life as a Bench,' it is really the story of Lauren contemplating her life after her death.

Ren can't eat or sleep. S
La Coccinelle
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I really didn't like this one. Here's the thing: I made a sort of reading resolution this year that I was going to stick to books from big publishers in 2018. I've become exhausted from reading self-pubbed and indie crap. Picking this book up was my own fault... but, to be fair, I assumed an award-winning novel would be written and edited well. I didn't realize that the awards this book won were for self-published and independent-press books.

I don't really have a problem with the premise. In fac
Tonstant Weader
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Jaq Hazell’s My Life as a Bench is a clever little book about a seventeen year old girl named Ren who died before we even open the cover. We met her on the day her memorial bench is placed for friends and family to visit and for strangers to rest as they jog along the river. To her eternal irritation, her father had her full name Lauren inscribed rather than the name she went by, Ren.

Luckily she is not alone, the next bench along the path is occupied by Lionel whose been there for twenty-two yea
Zoe Obstkuchen
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seventeen year old Ren had so much to live for - friends, family, her singing ambitions and her boyfriend Gabe. But now she’s gone her spirit resides in her memorial bench by the Thames with only her memories and another bench spirit called Lionel for company. Why doesn’t Gabe visit, and why can’t she quite remember what happened?
I read this in one day, wanting to see what happened.
Janet Storar
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First novel by this author that I've read. Hooked me so much that I read it in one sitting. Moving, funny and an amazing take on the afterlife. I shall certainly read more by this author and can highly recommend.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
An unusual tale of a young life, cut short. Told with flashbacks from the afterlife, this story was sad, romantic and touching.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews, arc-s
Lauren "Ren" Miller died aged 17. And it's only natural for us to wonder what happens next, right? Well wonder no longer - you become a park bench, next to lots of other park benches with a plaque for someone else's loved one. Who may or may not be somehow still present in another bench, so you can talk to them. It's a bit of a weird concept, but it somehow works, and if you can just get past that part the rest of the book is good, with a sweet message and some interesting ideas.

But there is mo
Rachel Stansel
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A short unique book. 17 yr old Ren finds her spirit stuck at a memorial bench after her death. Each night she relives the last few months of her life as well as her death. With the help of her bench neighbor Lionel, she uncovers the cause of her death and tries to come to terms with it. I found the story touching and suspenseful. A good read for a rainy day.

Full disclosure - I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sue Wallace
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My life as a bench by Jaq Hazell.
Ren though her name is Lauren is dead. She has come back as a bench. She keeps going back to when she first came to London to see her dad.
This was a really good read with good characters. It was a little slow but it soon picked up. I loved the ending perfect. I really felt for Gabriel. 5*. A very moving and emotional read. Tbc on fb.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
via my blog

This is for teens and reviewed with that genre in mind.

Why dump me here? It’s where the old people sit.

Seventeen year old Ren Miller is dead, stuck haunting a park bench memorial by the River Thames, London. Nothing haunts her more than her longing to see Gabe, her boyfriend while she was alive. Surprisingly while it may annoy some readers, thinking of teenagers and the obsessive all consuming love, I think some have forgotten what it early love
Shruti Ramanujam
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much, Jaq!

Ren Miller, our protagonist, died a tragic death at seventeen. Her consciousness remains attached to a bench by River Thames. She makes friends with the adjacent bench, inhabited by the consciousness of an old man (Lionel). Throughout the book, we see Ren reminiscing about the months leading to her death and trying to contact the people who come to visit, with occasional conversations with Lion
Natalia Jefferson
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A novel about young love that transcends the genre and had this, ahem, 'mature' woman reaching for the Kleenex with Amy Winehouse on repeat. Before we move on, can I just say how much I enjoyed Ren and Lionel's relationship which was just delightful. But there's the gamut of relationships and emotions going on in this gem of a novel which I pretty much loved from the moment I saw the title.

At the heart of the story is the inextinguishable and authentic flame that burns between Ren and Gabriel,
Lisa Bentley
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Sometimes a book will stay with you for all the right reasons long after you have turned the final page. I think that My Life is a Bench by Jaq Hazell will be such a book. Not because I overly loved it. It was good but I have read books that captured my heart more but because the story is just so cleverly thought out and so unusual.

It is the story of Ren Miller whose life has been tragically cut short. Her soul however lingers on in a memorial bench that has been bought in honour of her. She’s n
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
‘Piff’ means ‘superior to the average, or attractive’. I’m not a YA reader so some of the vocabulary was a little tricky for me but I mostly could make sense from the context. And then, hidden at the end, is a short glossary of slang definitions. Who knew ‘butters’ means ‘ugly’?

Apart from that this was a pretty satisfying short read and will be enjoyed by middle to late teenage readers, I think. There’s more than a touch of the paranormal and an unusual way of introducing characters and developi
Julie Jones
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first one of Jaq Hazell's books that I have read, but it will not be the last. A charming, bitter sweet tale that had me hooked in. I am sure to look at benches dedicated to souls in a completely different light now.
January Gray
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally in love with this book! I will certainly read again. Unique and well written!
Gina Adams
The concept of this book was super cool but there wasn’t much wrap up with the plot and the romance was really annoying and difficult to connect with. I think if I’d read it when I was a bit younger I’d have enjoyed it more.
Mariam Kaker
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An emotional roller coaster with a unique twist that had me hooked from the start. A great holiday read that you won't want to put down. I loved it!
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a quirky book and I truly enjoyed it. It's a combination of a love story and a mystery, as the plot.

Have you ever wonder whether you do "Rest In Peace" after you leave this earth?
An interesting concept from a 17 year old girl, Ren, whose life ends abruptly. Each and every day, she relives the events leading up to her death, her feelings as a teenager. Through her friend, Lionel, she begins to understand that if those that remain on earth, would take a moment and listen, we wil
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I picked this up because it sounded so different and interesting as the book opens to Ren, a 17 year old girl who has died and is now stuck, as a ghost of sorts, at a bench that has been dedicated to her.

It started quite well (if anything this would be a 2.5 if Goodreads allowed it) but as time progressed Ren because super dependent on Gabe and their relationship just didn't seem very healthy. Yes, it is a teenaged romance so maybe it could be forgiven but it just didn't seem very real.

Rubery Book Award
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-winners
Rubery Book Award - Book of the Year 2017

A memorial bench to seventeen year old Ren still contains her spirit. An aching sense of loss is wonderfully conveyed in this contemporary novel, as Ren tries to come to terms with her new situation, her own untimely death and the loss of her first real love, Gabe, who is blamed for her murder. Ren is visited in succession by her friends and family and touchingly struggles to communicate with them. She relives the events of her short life. There are no st
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I really, really enjoyed this book! It's such an original idea but it didn't feel weird or out of place at all, and Ren's character felt real to me. The story was really interesting and I liked the way that we learn her story bit by bit as she recalls it every night, getting a little bit further each time.
You can read my full review here:
Daryl G
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this highly original book. This book is full of wonderful ideas and really emotional, a thoroughly enjoyable read that I would strongly recommend, an author with a big future ahead of her.
I have to admit that I wasn't sure what to expect from "My Life as a Bench" but the synopsis sounded so intriguing that I just had to request it. I think I hoped for a mystery novel with a paranormal touch. Yeah, that's not what I got.

What I got was a love story. Every night Ren has to relive her relationship with her boyfriend Gabe – how they first met, how they fell in love, how they became a couple. Every night her memories are replaying in her mind and every time the reader has to go through
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era
  • Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness
  • The Wild Truth: A Memoir
  • Call Me American: A Memoir
  • I Crawl Through It
  • Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing
  • The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
  • Suicide Notes
  • The Confession Club (Mason, #3)
  • Best Friend Emma
  • Karen's Ice Skates (Baby-Sitters Little Sister, #56)
  • Henry Huggins (Henry Huggins, #1)
  • Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay
  • Three Amazing Things About You
  • A Slice of Magic
  • Above the Bay of Angels
  • Tweet Cute
  • The Better Liar
See similar books…
Jaq Hazell's novel My Life as a Bench won the Rubery Book Award Book of the Year 2017 and the Carousel Aware Prize Best Young Adult book 2017. Her debut novel, I Came to Find a Girl, was included in The Telegraph's Best Crime Fiction of 2015 and was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction.

Born near Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, to an Irish mother and an English father, she stud

Related Articles

The young adult genre continues to lead literature in embracing new voices, championing all types of diversity, and, well, just really app...
38 likes · 10 comments