Review: Fan by Danny Rhodes (5/5)

Monday 31 March 2014

"In 1989, eighteen-year-old John Finch spends his Saturdays following Nottingham Forest up and down the country and the rest of the week trudging the streets of his hometown as a postal worker. His blossoming relationship with girlfriend Jen is his only other respite. In 2004 he spends his days teaching in a southern secondary school while delaying the inevitable onslaught of parenthood. Leading inexorably towards the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, and the worst sporting disaster in British history, this book glides between 1989 and 2004, when the true impact of this tragic day becomes evident. Fan is a book about personal and collective tragedy. It’s about growing up and not growing up, about manhood and about what makes a man, and about football’s role in reflecting a society never more than a brick’s throw away from shattering point. Dark, haunting and deeply personal, Danny Rhodes’ heart-felt novel explodes with gut-wrenching emotion and exposes how disaster can not only affect a life, but change its course forever. Danny Rhodes was at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989. #The96"

I knew when I started this book it was going to be something special, but wow. Just wow. Nothing I can say will do this book justice and if you only take one thing away from this jumble of words make sure it is this: READ THIS BOOK. Read it, love it, and tell the world about it. Because books like this don't come along often, and when they do they deserve to be read. Don't ignore this book because you think it's about football. If you only read one book this year, make it this one. I've already been recommending it to people in real life and to my local library as a book they absolutely must stock. 

"If you only read one book this year, make it this one..."

I wasn't born until 1990. But I was born in and live in Liverpool. I was raised in a Liverpool supporting family and support them myself. I live in the shadow of the Kop. So growing up I learnt, or heard a lot about Hillsborough. My dad would take me to the ground as a child and explain what the memorial on Anfield Road was but of course it didn't sink in and I didn't understand fully what it was all about until I was much older. In my teens I helped out at the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and you read more about it here. A percentage of the profits for this book are going to the Anfield Sports & Community Centre (ASCC) on behalf of and in memory of the Hillsborough 96.

Now, yes this is a book about football but it is really so much more than that. There's a quote on the back cover from First Post Review and it says: 'a coming of age story with a difference'. When I read the blurb for this book I got goosebumps, I just knew I had to read it and thankfully the lovely people over at Arcadia books sent me a copy of it to review. It is such a powerful read, and incredibly written. Tears stung my eyes numerous times throughout this book I'm not ashamed to admit. 

"Once you read this book you will never, ever forget it."
A book of this nature could and should only ever be written by somebody who knows what they are talking about and when I read on the back 'Danny Rhodes was at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989' I got chills. It is clear reading the book how much this author has put into it. Blood, sweat and tears I should imagine. I applaud him for what is an incredible piece of writing, books like this should still be being read 100 years down the line. I just got lost in the pages, the bits at Hillsborough just made tears run down my face. I really cannot emphasise enough how much I mean this and how much I wish everybody would rush out and buy this book. In years to come if I am ever asked about the best book I have ever read I am sure this one will be on the list. Like the tragedy itself once you read this book you will never, ever forget it.

"an incredible piece of writing"

Finally I want to give a huge thank you to Arcadia books. Not only for providing me with this book to review (my first ever review 'book post') but also for the support they gave me when I started my blog a few days ago! Also it sounds like 2014 will be a huge year for them. This quote from their catalogue sums it up for me: 'truly magnificent books take us into their grip and hold us there, and it is those books that Arcadia is actively seeking to publish'. That aim has definitely been met with this book. In fact that quote describes this book perfectly. And I feel privileged to have read it. I also would like to thank Danny Rhodes for writing this book, this is one of the most important releases of 2014, it really is. I just hope it is a massive, massive success.

You can buy FAN from April 15th 2014 and I really hope you do. Paperback or Kindle on Amazon

You can find out more about the incredible DANNY RHODES on his website and read about FAN and his other books

And of course the fantastic Arcadia books can be followed on Twitter where you can keep up to date with the rest of their sure to be amazing 2014 releases

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