Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on April 7th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary
eARC provided by Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
Whiskey & Charlie is a captivating debut novel of brothers who have drifted apart and the accident that will determine their future, by an unforgettable new voice exploring the struggles and strengths of the sibling bond.
Some twins communicate in a secret language all their own. For Whiskey and Charlie Ferns, the two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies is the best they can do. But as the brothers grow up, they grow apart. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not-bold, daring, carefree-and Charlie blames his brother for always stealing the limelight, always striving ahead while seeming to push Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.
When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, he is shocked...although perhaps not devastated. But as days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to look back on their lives and examine whether or not Whiskey's actions were truly as unforgivable as Charlie believed them to be.
Let me tell you why I love Whiskey and Charlie. This story had good feels, sibling rivalry, the awkwardness of adolescence, a romance or two, secrets and surprises. I am so excited to have been able to review this and even more excited to offer you a glimpse at the author Annabel Smith and a chance to win a copy of this book.
This is a book about Charlie and Whiskey, identical twins who don’t speak to each other anymore. In childhood they were inseparable, as adults they are estranged. Everything changes when Whiskey is in a car crash and ends up in a coma. Charlie is left to try to sort out his feelings of lose for the brother he wishes he had, and the brother he wishes he was.
This debut novel had me completely captivated. I fell into layers of characters and emotional drama. This story takes place in Australia, but it could have been anywhere. The author sets the scene, but it is the weight of the words that I most remember of this story. The medical element is right on key with what families go through, (sounds, advice, strangers, warnings, lack of hopeful outcomes), when a family member’s prognosis is unknown. Whiskey is in a coma and quite unable to tell his side of the story as Charlie reminisces Whiskey. Charlie goes through every stage of grief as he struggles with the guilt of amends unmade. He is also under a lot of pressure from his girlfriend Juliet to take the next step and a family member comes seemingly out of nowhere to throw the family off balance.
I appreciate the honesty of the character of Charlie, he is far from perfect. He puts his foot in his mouth and sees things that are obvious only after it is pointed out to him. This story flips through Charlies memory of Whiskey and the faults that made him impossible to live with. This book was so well written I couldn’t stop reading it. I didn’t even realize the emotional attachment the author had created for me toward Whiskey until 75% through the story. Then I suffered through doing what was “right” for him right along with Charlie.
I think it is a rare gift for an author to make us feel for someone like Whiskey even after everything that Charlie admits about him. This story is about family as much as it is about love and forgiveness. I will not soon forget this story.
About the Author
Annabelle’s TOP 10 Favorite Things
- Ocean swimming
- Chocolate, especially Lindt
- Studio Ghibli movies, especially Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind
- Cheese, especially brie
- Dancing, especially on tables
- The Dalai Lama
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor (swoon)
- Woody Allen movies, especially Annie Hall
- The ‘Hot Guys Reading’ tumblr
Tell us about you?
I am the author of three novels, Whiskey & Charlie, A New Map of the Universe and a digital interactive novel The Ark. I was born in England and moved with my family to Perth, Western Australia in 1988, where I now live with my husband and eight year old son. When I’m not writing, I teach English as a Second Language to students from India, China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and a host of other countries who have come to Perth to attend university.
What inspired Whiskey & Charlie?
I only realized it in hindsight, but Whiskey & Charlie was inspired by a situation in my family, in which my dad and his brother had a falling out which resulted in them not speaking for a decade. I was a teenager at the time, very close to my two brothers, and I found it impossible to understand how two people who had grown up together could reach a point where they didn’t speak at all. Whiskey & Charlie was my explanation for that.
What was your favorite part to write in Whiskey & Charlie?
The early scenes set in England were a delight to write because they were drawn so much from my childhood memories. I also had a lot of fun writing the chapter Delta, which deals with teenage sexuality. I think the scenes which gave me the most satisfaction to write were those between Charlie and the counselor Thomas, because those were the moments when Charlie had such important epiphanies about the part he played in the demise of his relationship with Whiskey.
How and where do you usually write?
I write from 9 to 3 every day while my son is at school. I don’t hang out washing or stack the dishwasher: no matter what state the house is in I sit at my desk in my home office and get stuck into it. I set myself a goal of writing 500 words a day. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing – like anyone, I would rather goof off on Facebook or whatnot, so setting myself a low goal is motivating. I tell myself, just 500 words and then you can stop, and that makes me knuckle down. Of Course, once I start, I usually enjoy it anyway. And 500 words doesn’t sound much but it roughly equates to a book a year.
Who is your favorite author or the author that inspires you?
My favorite author is Ann Patchett. She has the most incredible gift for writing about human relationships; such an amazing insight into what makes people tick. I love all her books, but my favorite is Bel Canto.
What is your opinion on negative reviews?
I think it’s important for a book review to be honest. If we’re only going to say nice things then book reviews are ultimately not very useful. Having said that, a harsh review can really sting and mostly it’s not what is said but the way it’s said. Negative reviews can be insightful if they’re carefully worded, and balanced with some acknowledgement of what does work. If I’m feeling sensitive about a book’s reception, I get my husband to screen my reviews. he reads out the good parts, and summarizes the criticisms in neutral language. This makes them a lot easier to take!
US/Canada only closes April 14th, 2015 at midnight EST.
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