Blog Tour: How To Bring Him Back by Claire HM

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Title: How to Bring Him Back
Author: Claire HM
Price: £6.99
Publisher: Fly on the Wall Press
Publication date: 08/10/2021

Hello everyone! How are you today? It's time for another book review, and trust me, it's a good one! Today I'm reviewing How to Bring Him Back by Claire HM as part of a blog tour. Don't forget to take a look at the blog tour poster at the end so you can read the other bloggers' reviews (and you can see that I'm not the only one who thinks so highly of the novella!). Massive thanks to Isabelle Kenyon and Fly on the Wall Press for my gifted copy of the book, and for allowing me to take part in the blog tour.

Book synopsis:
It's 90s Birmingham and post-university, but Cait's aspirations haven't taken her far from her council estate beginnings. Living in a bedsit and working in a bar, she's caught between two best friends: Stadd, who's stable, funny, compatible as a friend, and her compulsive sexual attraction with Rik. Present day Cait picks up her pen, on her yearly writing retreat to the sea, and discovers she's finally ready to conjure an absent Stadd with an apology based on the lessons she has learnt from her chaotic past.

As many others have also done, I read How To Bring Him Back in one sitting. I'd describe the novella as a portal that transports you to 90s Birmingham where you follow Cait's footsteps whilst you also evaluate your own past. Although I wasn't even born at the time Cait's past is set, her memories still made me feel nostalgic. The use of first-person narration also made me feel closer to Cait and although the character makes some bad choices, it's difficult to not feel sympathy for her after what she went through. 

"My apology is a curation of thoughts, the embellishment of memories. I'm gathering it all around a theme and the theme is: Caitlin, what a piece of shit."

In such a short amount of pages, I think Claire managed to develop the characters very well. The character of Cait is distinct through her speech and appearance, and the character's behaviour is incredibly realistic. The contrast of personalities between the characters of Stadd and Rik is highlighted through Cait's descriptions of them, but also through their treatment of her. Even though she was caught in a love triangle through faults of her own, you can still gather how her home life and her experience at university impacted her choices, even if only briefly mentioned. 

Furthermore, I enjoyed the way the novella chapters alternated between the past and present; this allows the reader to see how Cait's personality evolved over the years. I also think the concept of the novella is interesting in itself, as Cait conjures an absent Stadd with an apology based on the lessons of her past - an effective, and meaningful way to apologise. A lot of people may be prompted by this to write a letter to a person from their past themselves, even if they won't ever see it. I don't think I have any apology letters to write but I'd definitely like to let people know how they made me feel and how I wish things ended up differently.

Overall, I think that How to Bring Him Back by Claire HM is a novella full of memories, regrets and lessons. The story definitely leaves you craving to find out more about Cait's past life and how it impacted her. Claire HM's writing and the character of Cait is certainly a breath of fresh, and it would be a mistake not to read this book!

Rating: 5 stars


About the Author

Claire HM is a fiction writer, poet and teacher based in (and writing about) her home city of Birmingham. In 2018, she had an essay published in the anthology, I Wrote it Anyway, about her experience of  accessing university and the long journey of finding the confidence to write as a woman in her forties from a working-class background. Her work is now published in a growing number of literary publications, including Tears in the Fence, Magma, The Rialto, streetcar, Coven Journal and in Cape Magazine.

Below you can find the poster for the How to Bring Him Back blog tour and see the other reviews for Claire HM's novella!

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