The Couple Next Door – Book review

Just finished: The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena

When I saw that this book was hailed the new The Girl on the Train I thought, oh no, I’ve already read that. Will this book bore me to death? The similarities are obvious from the get-go, but so are the differences. Both are worth a read.

The most obvious difference to me was that this isn’t a first-person narrative. At first I thought this would completely ruin the story, an omniscient narrator can give too much away to the reader, making solving the mystery way too easy. At times, I felt the narrator did give too much away, but they did always remember what certain characters didn’t know when they went into their minds.

It’s a funny little book really, 300ish pages about a story just about a baby going missing from its crib. Surely, given how condensed stories become when put into these kind of novels, it wouldn’t take 300 pages to find this baby? Or to not find this baby?

It starts with Anne and Marco, the parents, at a party next door with Cynthia and Graham. Marco gets pretty drunk, Anne gets pretty upset, Cora (the baby) gets pretty missing.

Kind of spoiler alert: you find out who took the baby out the crib exactly halfway through……(I know right?!). But that gives you an indication of just how many twists there are to this tale. It isn’t that simple.

Basically, the possibilities you’re given are:

Cynthia, the neighbour, has taken the child because she is jealous that Anne, the child’s mother, spends more time with the baby now than with her supposed best friend.

Anne, in the mist of postnatal depression and a history of mental illness, has done something to her own baby and forgotten. Marco, the baby’s father, may or may not have covered this up for her.

But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t be an extra 150 pages after finding out, would there? I guessed what happened a total four times (I think…), getting it right in the end (as always, may I add).

Now it’s your turn. I read it in less than 24 hours. The Couple Next Door makes you just as nosy as the title would suggest.

Thing that make me feel alive.

Now Playing: Summertime – My Chemical Romance

 

The piano version of that song, that makes me feel alive. It has a melody that makes me feel like I’m on drugs, good drugs. Better than drugs.

There She Goes by The La’s has a similar effect. and This Night Has Opened My Eyes by The Smiths, my favourite band. One of my favourite songs. There’s just something about songs like that that you can’t explain to others. It ripples down your bones.

Walking down a street with no jacket on and carrying no bag. Wonderful. Bliss. That feeling of freedom, made better by your hair dragging neatly behind you.

Everton winning an important game, scoring a penalty. The whistling from the fans whilst waiting for the ref to blow the whistle. And then the relief when they do.

Waiting around in an airport for your flight, with butterflies doing their rounds in your stomach.

That funny feeling you get when you quickly go down a little hill on a road. Or drop on a ride. A tumgasm. It lasts a fraction of a second, but it’s just a friendly reminder that you’re alive.

Eye contact with a different animal. Staring out a cat. Feeling a chimp eyeing you up in a zoo, knowing you’re their distant relative. That it could have easily been them making laws instead of you. – Well, instead of white men.

Just random acknowledgements of your own humanity, and mortality.

Cold water hitting your face. If you’re anything like me you’ll hate it, but be thankful for it a few moments later when you feel so much more awake.

Someone you like touching the back of your neck, making you do that awful thing with your shoulders. Someone playing with your hair. Playing with your own hair. Playing with yourself.

I’m just waiting to die…and then, one of these things happens. It’s almost like I wake up from a daze, and I’m alive.

I feel alive. And I enjoy it.

And then it’s back to being on standby.

Obvious, but important, things I learned from cognitive-behavioural therapy

After suffering on my own with anxiety and depression for about 5 years, last year I finally got forced to get some professional help. A CBT therapist is what I was handed. Sadly, the sessions did not cure me. But they have helped me to realise when I am being ridiculously irrational, resulting in better quality days.

I felt it was the right thing to do to share what I found most helpful, because most people really do suffer this alone.

  1. most worries are hypothetical
    Whenever you’re worried about something, find the root of the specific thing you’re worried about. Start your thought with “I’m worried that” and see what the answer is. Most of the time it’ll be something in the future that may or may not happen.
    “I’m worried that I’ll fail my exam.” – why waste time worrying about something that could happen? Turn that worry into revising for that exam etc.
    And if your worry IS a current one, make sure you do what you need to do NOW, so no more time is wasted worrying about it.
  2. you’re not the most important thing in everybody else’s life
    This sounds strange at first but it’s very important you realise this. I used to worry about going to the checkout in stores incase I dropped change, or had to ask them to repeat the price etc. etc. I thought they’d scrutinise me, if not with words, with their facial expression.
    But in the real world that person on the till is actually bored out of their tits doing their tedious job. They won’t remember you dropping 50p in 2 minutes time, never mind in 2 years time. Your ‘mistakes’ are no big deal to others, they probably won’t even notice. And they most certainly won’t give a shit.
  3. you have absolutely 0% control over what happens
    Metaphorically and literally, you can’t control the weather. I used to get horrendously agitated if I went out and it started to rain. I’d find myself  blaming myself for going out at that specific time. Fuck sake izzy you should have KNOWN it was gonna rain…
    …Why should I have known that? You never have full control over things, so never beat yourself up about things like that.
  4. if something increases your anxiety levels, FUCKIN’ DO IT
    Yes, another strange one. In therapy I was introduced to the idea of ‘habituation’ – that is, the more frequently you’re exposed to a situation, the quicker your anxiety levels will decrease permanently when doing that activity or whatever it is.
    The more times you walk up to the counter and drop your 50p without sudden death, the sooner you’ll realise sudden death is a ridiculous prediction in the first place.
  5. new things will not kill you (if you try new things within reason)
    If you’re anything like me, the idea of trying new things is the worst thing in the world. I’d avoid it at all cost. Now I only avoid it a bit……
    At the end of the day, if you don’t like the new thing, just stop doing the new thing. You aren’t going to be trapped forever doing cycling or attending a society meeting at uni. Just leave. Walk away. And like your grandparents always said to you, ‘you don’t know until you try.’ (Annoyingly, they were right this time. Unlike when they said wet hair gives you a cold…)

 

So, with all that in mind. Go out and seize the day/night, little ones. Only you can help you. ♥

“…but don’t forget the songs that saved your life…”

Now Playing: Rubber Ring – The Smiths

Everyone has that one thing don’t they? That girl at school with the weird horse obsession. The guy who just loved cars (started compensating at an early age?).

What’s my thing, you ask? Music. Or perhaps more specifically, men who are mentally disturbed. Fall Out Boy quite recently sang about how you are what you love. I guess that makes me a montage of heck clinically depressed but life-changing musicians.

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Book Review: ‘The Artificial Silk Girl’ – Irmgard Keun

Translated by Kathie von Ankum from the German original, this short novel should be deemed a masterpiece in 20th century literature. However, due to Nazi censorship it was sadly almost forgotten about.

A revival of the novel came about at the turn of the century, and after reading it I can understand why.

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Give Peas A Chance

As an animal lover, giving up meat was something that I always inspired to do. As a child I told my vegetarian mum I wanted to do it twice, and both times I caved in. Last summer I decided to seriously quit beating that meat, and I feel finger lickin’ good because of it…

The sudden rise in the promotion of veganism on social media influenced me to write about just why turning veggie has made me feel better.

Continue reading “Give Peas A Chance”

3pm mayhem, and where to miss it.

DISCLAIMER: I write this post pretending that I do not watch streams of football matches at any time of the day, as that is illegal highly frowned upon.

Any fan of the soon to be Cadburys Premier League will know the heartbreak of seeing the announcement of which monthly fixtures will be televised, and not seeing their beloved side playing against West Bromwich Albion being on the big screen. (Sorry WBA fans, just a good example innit).

But why exactly do Sky and BT not show these 3pm matches?

Continue reading “3pm mayhem, and where to miss it.”

Peter Hook & The Light – Gig Review

Time and Place: 3rd March 2017, Liverpool o2 Academy.

Going on tour without the rest of the band (of the rest of the band…?) to perform the both of the bands’ Greatest Hits sounds like an odd decision, but one that ‘Hooky’ certainly pulled off.

(I sound suspicious, but I did always have…True Faith in him performing…)

Continue reading “Peter Hook & The Light – Gig Review”