Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“The thing ’bout you and me, bruv, is we’re always on the same ledge. No matter what ‘appens. I’ll keep you from falling. Don’t worry ’bout that.”
One of the most powerful, thought-provoking and heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. Why do I always seem to read books that require at least one week of recovery time?! This author has quickly become a favourite of mine and I think you’ll see why when you read this review. I’m so happy to be a part of this blog tour with all these other fabulous book bloggers!
Behind the postcard imagery of London, the darkest parts of the city house some of the saddest stories.
When Michael met Cameron, they were two boys who shared a bond and a ledge, an escape from their turbulent and violent home lives. But when Michael leaves, their lives drift apart into dramatically different directions until the events of the past bring them back together. They are no longer boys, but the ledge remains. Can they save themselves? Can they save one another?
Oh my word, what an opening! I couldn’t quite tell what grabbed me first, but it was a mixture of such a dark and mysterious tone of voice from the author, and the clues we’re drip fed about the main characters and their lives. I was completely in love with how this developed and reading this book soon became some sort of addiction, with each page becoming more captivating than the last. The description and just how the author manages to pull you in to the story very early on was just phenomenal in my eyes, and I couldn’t quite believe how good it was in some places! The reader is given such a deep insight into the minds of the main characters and just how everything that’s happened in their lives make them feel different emotions, bringing them to the point they’re at today. I loved it – just amazing! It isn’t often you can be confident that a book will be great when you’ve read so little, but I was instantly sold on this one. I knew this journey would be a memorable one!
A lot of what was described in the beginning of the book was so saddening and it explores the dark side of mental health issues and depression. This was so incredibly powerful and it was impossible not to feel all the different emotions in the book so deeply. The two characters we learn more about are young soon-to-be friends, Michael and Cameron. Michael suffers physical and mental abuse from his father growing up which really affects the kind of person he becomes. I loved how we slowly learn of the numerous similarities between Michael and Cameron, and I really liked Cameron as a character. Even though he seems like a tough guy on the surface, he’s got a lot going on at home which makes us fear for his safety. These characters were so alike and I was curious to find out how their relationship grew. The story continues to be saddening, but I felt as though the scenes of abuse and terror builds awareness and helps others to understand what can go on behind closed doors.
The raw emotion in this book was enough to make anyone shed a tear and my eyes were tearing up reading certain scenes. The author’s impressive description of a character taking his own life and the feelings of loss and helplessness felt by other characters was simply out of this world. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life! The book was definitely one of those that makes you think so deeply about every topic explored and it certainly makes you think about your own life too. I felt so connected to all the characters which is an achievement in itself, and I just couldn’t imagine how much worse things could get for these characters. I knew things would get even more difficult for both Michael and Cameron though, so I put on a brave face to get me through what was to come! Already, I loved everything about the book and found this author to be incredibly talented in so many ways. I could tell this would be consistent from beginning to end!
Tonight is different. Tonight, he wants to sleep and not wake up.
Michael and Cameron find themselves parting ways – it almost felt like the end of an era, but I sensed the pair would always have each other’s backs, no matter how far away from one another they were. Again, there are some difficult scenes of domestic abuse and violence which can be particularly difficult to stomach, but the author has written these in a way that forces the reader to become hooked and desperate to find out what happens next. I found it impossible to predict anything in this book which I think is what made it so hard to put down. Each chapter ends by making us desperately want to read the chapter that follows, even with a book of this nature which can be very unsettling at times. The opening to the book was incredibly strong and I had a feeling things would get darker the more we read. Would Cameron go so far as to take a life? When would Michael and Cameron cross paths again, and would they always have each other’s backs like Cameron promised?
With Michael gone, Cameron finds himself mingling with an older crowd. He experiments with alcohol and drugs, racist remarks and violent fights, getting himself into more danger than ever before. It worried me just how careless Cameron was becoming, with very little to make him remotely happy. I loved this character at the start, but now, I just loved him even more! The author has very cleverly developed this character slowly; we see every emotion develop and get stronger and stronger with each chapter, and it was becoming more and more worrying how he was effortlessly getting himself into trouble. Character creation is definitely one of the author’s strong points, and if you read this book, you’ll see exactly why! I found myself thinking about Michael, and just how he’d react if he saw the sorts of things his best mate Cameron was doing these days. Who knows, maybe we’ll discover Michael is just as troubled soon enough… I loved how the story places equal focus on each of these characters too.
Cameron continues to live his life; moving in with Sharon, the girl he dumped and then changed his mind about, and swearing he’d give up the drink and drugs for a brand new start. I wasn’t sure he’d be able to stick to this and I had the awful feeling that things would only get worse. The author builds up an unusual type of suspense that I just couldn’t get enough of! I worried for exactly what Cameron was getting himself in for as he agreed to beat up a stranger for a group of men who had the upper hand. Deep down, beneath his hard guy attitude, Cameron was scared, constantly watching his back, perhaps fearing for his life. How much more would he take on? When would he make the change he needed to make in his life to experience normal living? If I was honest to myself, I wasn’t sure he ever would after learning more about him. He was stuck in his ways, with no hope of getting out. Would Michael ever be able to pull him out of this pit he’s fallen into?
All the way through the book, you constantly feel like you’re a part of the action, and the small details make the book so impactful. We read dialogue in the character’s accents thanks to how well the author has written conversations, we feel every punch of a fist and experience every drunken slur first hand. I couldn’t fault any of it and I seemed to be constantly impressed by everything the author threw into this book – it all worked together perfectly. As much as I loved reading from Cameron’s perspective, I was always excited to change to Michael’s and catch up with his life too. At this point, even though he still seemed troubled, he didn’t seem just as troubled as Cameron. However, it seemed those around him was. He learns how to comfort those suffering with loss and suicidal thoughts, but at what price? I loved where the story was going, but I felt there was still so much drama to come. What on earth would these characters experience next? I genuinely could not tear my eyes away!
“He thought back to the previous summer, how he longed to be near her, to hold her hand and stroke her face. Now her presence weighed on him, choking him.”
Years pass before Michael and Cameron cross paths again, and when they do, they see just how different their lives have become. It seems Michael doesn’t have the time he once had for his old friend, even though Cameron is so desperate for a friend right now. Unexpected emotion hit me at this point and it felt as though Cameron was slowly deteriorating and losing hope before our very eyes. Drugs are once again his main priority and he seemed to be sinking lower than ever before. I had no idea how things would end up for these characters, and even though the pair were drifting apart, I still sensed that connection they once had when they were younger, and was reminded of the promise Cameron made – that he’d always be there for Michael. Would Michael always be there for Cameron even when his life was spiraling out of control? I was desperate for the end of the book and so excited to see where the author would end things (preferably before I turned into a blubbering wreck!)
A huge event in Cameron’s life forces him to step up and be the man he’s meant to be, and I wondered whether this particular event would force him to change who he has become. I really liked this part of the book; we see both Michael and Cameron begin to take some responsibility like a proper adult, but the pair still found it difficult to lay off the drugs or stay away from the violence completely. Cameron is also forced to pay for his mistakes, just as things start to look up for him. Would this guy ever be out of trouble for good? The book continues to make us think so deeply about these characters, pondering the ‘what ifs’ and just thinking how different their lives would be if they’d had an easier upbringing or made different decisions in their lives. It was interesting to think about all the other paths the story could have taken. It was also great to reflect on the development of these characters from the first few chapters. I’d become so attached that I didn’t want to book to end!
I’ve thankfully not known the feeling of hitting rock bottom, but the author has given his readers a reading experience that I imagine to be pretty damn close. I was completely speechless at this point in the book, not only from the author’s impeccable description, but by just how he makes you feel every single word so deeply. My eyes were tearing up just imagining what Cameron goes through as his luck plummets. The author’s words are so vivid and give readers the opportunity to put themselves directly into the character’s shoes, which I found absolutely remarkable. I’ve come across very few authors who can create such an unforgettable overall experience for a reader, and I truly believe this book is one of the best. As we were nearing those final few chapters, I was desperate for another Michael and Cameron meet up. Would Michael save Cameron from this hell he’s now living, or will he simply be too late?
I couldn’t even prepare myself for what happened next. My heart almost broke in two! I was absolutely gobsmacked and felt so gutted for Michael and what he now has to carry around with him for the rest of his life. There are some graphic scenes and some incredibly sad descriptions, but I thought the way this played out was extraordinary. I felt so much emotion, much more than I ever thought possible in a book and I felt that this part of the story teaches so much. We’re forced to think of Michael and Cameron’s friendship all those years ago and just how much they’ve grown apart. The title of this book had so much meaning at this point in time and every part of the story fits together well, forcing you to reflect on everything. I was in complete awe! How would the author end things after this?
“It was the first time that he had accepted that he didn’t have all the answers and that he didn’t have to find them alone.”
The ending of the story left me with a number of feelings, but I was pretty satisfied with the way the author concluded things. It felt just as powerful and impactful as the rest of the story, but had something special injected in there to make it as memorable as possible which I loved. I feel like this whole story is one complete masterpiece which fills you with hope and dread in equal measure, and this is particularly true of the final few chapters. It forces you to think more deeply about life, violence, gangs and just what it takes to survive when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. I won’t hesitate to give this book the five stars it deserves, and I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future!
This book perfectly portrays two characters with a connection, a connection which brings a lifetime of pain and destruction unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The creation of these two characters was extraordinary and I found it incredibly difficult not to become attached to them. The author has developed a story which unleashes every emotion for the reader and creates such an unforgettable experience that it’ll take me a while to recover from. I think the author has absolutely nailed this story and left me with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat! An amazing experience!
A huge thank you to the author, Daniel James, and Emma at Damp Pebbles for my copy of this book and my place on the blog tour! You can purchase your own copy of The Same Ledge on Amazon now, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you follow the author over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates.