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If I Should Stumble by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

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If I Should Stumble by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Book Info

Book Series
Tork & Adam
About the Author
 Al Stewart and Claire Davis write about people who are not perfect. Claire embraces the dark side, and Al the good side of the force. Their work is there for a fusion of both, mixed often with kink and humour. 
Publication Date
December 01, 2016
Available Formats
Content Warning
This contains difficult subject matter related to refugees, mental health, and body image.
Love is sure and timeless and forever. It whispers over the morning coffee and the last thought before sleep. Love is beyond hope, and cruel as life.

Kaz has been in the UK for almost a year, but the days pass by in an endless round of alcohol and nothingness. He has a story but no words good or bad enough to tell it, until one day, he is assigned a new peer mentor who asks him to help train a sponsored running team. Something that was stretched as old parchment breaks inside, and memories begin to re-surface.

Zack is overjoyed when his friend Adam asks him to be part of the sponsored run team trying to make money for the local homeless shelter. All day he makes cakes to lighten people’s load, but something is missing from his life. Then he meets the boy with eyes like the desert, and with every step he runs, Zack’s light burns away the darkness in Kaz’s heart.

As the race heats gets nearer, Tork, Adam, Zack and Jo realise that under Kaz’s careful programme, they have a chance to qualify and set right some of the wrongs of this world.

This book features the characters Tork and Adam from The Invasion of Tork and The Invasion of Adam.

Editor review

1 review
Sensitive topic handled beautifully
I’m always at a bit of a loss to explain just why I love these authors’ books so much, but it boils down to a few key things: Romance as secondary to plot, other types of relationships as equally important, and complex issues and themes. The stories may not be epic-length novels, but they say everything they need to.

If I Should Stumble is incredibly well-written. It’s emotional, and readers need to go in prepared for the heavy themes (particularly the struggles of refugees). But none of it is played up solely for the sake of tugging at heartstrings or preaching about current affairs. This is about finding hope even in despair and about learning trust even in the midst of fear.

What I like is that the story doesn’t shy away from tough subject matter. Kaz’s mental state is collapsing, and he’s doing everything he can to keep from going under. His life has been brutal, and he’s been forced to do battle to survive. His voice is unique, both in his perspective as a refugee and in the ways he tries to adapt and find his place in a society which is often hard to understand. Kaz’s drinking and his hoarding are both achingly real and brilliant metaphors.

I love Tork’s almost sideways kind of thinking and his shrewd mind in figuring out how to reach Kaz when others have mostly talked past or around him. Of course, I’m also thrilled to see that his “happily ever after” with Adam isn’t just a fairy tale ending. Adam is a nice bit of snarky comic relief, and of course, he has layers too that we see peeled back. I’d love to know more about Jo as well; I get the sense there’s more to her than we see here.

We only get to see Zack through Kaz’s eyes, and  I think that’s fine. I’m not sure the story would have worked with alternating points of view. It could easily have become too much about him. I love Kaz’s internal dialog about Zack and the sweet way their relationship moves. Maybe one day, we’ll see how they turn out together the way we’ve gotten to see Adam and Tork.

There are so many levels to the storytelling that it’s impossible to go through them all here. While there are adults who might object to the language, the brutality of Kaz’s experiences, and the implied (though not ever explicit) sensuality, I am not one of them. I would not hesitate to give this to young adult readers. They can typically handle far more than we give them credit for, and there’s so much depth in this story which deserves to be read and discussed.

For exceptional writing, characters who feel real, and hope shining through, this gets 5 stars.
Top 10 Reviewer 25 reviews
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