Ben, also in his early twenties, is still trying to find his place in the world.
By chance they meet one day in a London park.
Ben spots Alice sitting on a bench and feels compelled to speak to her. To his surprise, their connection is instant. But before numbers are exchanged, Alice is whisked off by her demanding boss.
20 minutes later
Alone in her office toilets, Alice looks at herself in the mirror and desperately searches for the beauty Ben could see in her.
Meanwhile, having misunderstood a parting remark, Ben is already planning a trip to Glasgow where he believes Alice lives, not realising that they actually live barely ten miles apart.
Over the next 31 days, Alice and Ben will discover that even if they never manage to find each other again, they have sparked a change in each other that will last a lifetime.
What I Thought:
Let’s get it out of the way and say immediately that 31 Days of Wonder is NOT a book of romance – it’s completely upfront in saying that Ben and Alice meet only once and, in doing so, they spark something in each other that sets them off on a month-long journey of change.
After Ben and Alice’s meeting on Day 1, each new day gets a new chapter told from either Ben or Alice’s perspective as Ben tries and fails and tries again to get himself to Glasgow and Alice begins to think about Ben telling her that she’s beautiful. Although they met only briefly, the meeting brought something to life in both of them which, actually, seems to be the message of the book – you never know how contact with another person, however brief, might affect them and you.
Ben is a loveable character with no filter between brain and mouth, and a cocktail of drugs for unspecified mental health problems, which we learn about later on in the story as he reconnects with his childhood and the dramatic story of his early life. His optimism and innocence are written beautifully as he sets off from London to Glasgow on a pushbike.
I did identify a little with Alice, given her issues with her body and it’s lovely to see her come out of her shell – even if it is through lying about her ‘boyfriend’, Ben. It’s like this white lie gives her armour to turn aside the comments of her family and co-workers, allowing her to see herself as Ben saw her.
Tom Winter writes Ben and Alice’s stories with humour and genuine compassion and leaves them both with a hopeful ending and, although I wouldn’t say this book is ripe for a sequel, it’s nice to imagine Ben and Alice’s lives going forward on a better path thanks to their few moments of contact.
Please note: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.