Amanda McKeon's Reviews > Can't Live Without

Can't Live Without by Joanne Phillips
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it was amazing

Last year my family and I upped sticks and left Paris for some sunny region in the south of France. I say some sunny region because we had no idea where exactly we were going to move to. We packed up our belongings, took our daughter out of school and hightailed it out of Paris.

With nowhere to go we put all our belongings in storage and just kept the essentials for camping over the summer, during which time we planned to find the perfect place to settle. It was a good lesson in learning to live without stuff, although truth be told I was pretty happy to unpack said stuff when we moved into our new home that September.

No such luck for Stella Hill who wakes up one morning to find her house is on fire and all her belongings are perishing in front of her eyes. Thus begins a transformation that will cause her to question what is disposable or unnecessary in her life, and what she simply can’t live without.

Joanne Phillips has an engaging and lively style and doesn’t shy away from serious issues like consumerism, teenage pregnancy and the vicissitudes of romantic love. Stella isn’t a one dimensional character–she’s realistic and unpredictable– a multi-layered protagonist who grows on you as the book progresses. While at first she comes across as sassy and smart, we soon discover that she’s all mush on the inside; a strong female that will resonate with many readers.

Stylistically, Phillips takes a risk with the point of view which changes from chapter to chapter and even within chapters. Stella’s chapters are in the first person, her daughter, Lipsy’s are told through the third person and diary entries, and Paul Smart’s (the love interest) are told exclusively in the third person. At first I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but it all comes together beautifully and I take my hat off to Joanne Phillips for having the innovation and courage to try something different.

A great debut novel from a real British talent!

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Reading Progress

July 2, 2013 – Started Reading
July 2, 2013 – Shelved
August 1, 2013 – Finished Reading

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