Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Spotlight & Review: Another Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton

Another Shot by Stephen Anthony Brotherton

It used to make me feel special, the fact that they knew me, knew what I wanted, but it had soured with repetition. I’d become my drink order – that’s what it felt like. But it was okay. People watching in this place made me feel part of the world, got me away from the house for a few hours. And it was here she came back to me. I hadn’t seen her for three decades and suddenly there she was, standing next to my table.
‘Hello, Freddie’.”

Another Shot tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop thirty-five years after the end of their teenage romance. Jo-Jo finds Freddie through a mutual friend, and tells him that she is emigrating following the death of her husband. She gives him a photograph of the two of them on their first weekend away, a trip to Blackpool.

How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart is all told through a series of flashbacks. These memories feed into events when they meet up again and explain why, despite the passage of time and the intensity of their still simmering love, there is no future for their relationship.

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What happens when you meet your first love again, thirty years after you parted ways? 

Freddie's surprised when Jo-Jo got in-touch with him again after all these years. Seeing her again brought back memories and feeling he'd long buried, or so he thought. However, their meeting ended in the same way as their relationship with more unanswered questions than answers. 

Freddie and Jo-Jo's story is like a trip down memory lane. Even though I worked out I am five years younger than the protagonists, I can relate to details referenced about how life was in the 1970s and 1980s. Reminders of long-forgotten clothing trends, popular foods and music of the times had me laughing out loud as well as reminiscing about the era which spanned my childhood. The memories flooded back; some good, some not so good... 

I like how we get to understand how each viewed their relationship and it's easy to feel their attraction and love for each other. Yet, it is also clear they are dissimilar people who have differing ideas of what they want and need. Jo-Jo is more concise about her wishes and needs whilst Freddie is more of a plodder, accepting what life has thrown at him rather than having a clear view about chasing ambitions. 

Initially, it concerned me how the author wrote the narrative as a series of vignettes. Each either involves a point of view change, or flashback. Thankfully, Mr Brotherton manages to keep everything flowing perfectly so to not confuse a reader like myself if too many shifts away from the main plot occur. Each vignette is sufficiently long for me to not forget past details and as the story unfolds, the layers are easily absorbed and remembered. There's also a cliffhanger, which I love because I'm invested in knowing how the story unfolds for Freddie and Jo-Jo and looking forward to how the author continues it.

Whether you are a reader of a certain age like myself or just interested in books with flashbacks to the 1970s and 1980s, Another shot is the first book in a trilogy which will appeal if you want to enjoy reliving memories from the past through Freddie and Jo-Jo's eyes.

***Review copy received courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources***

I was born in Walsall, grew up in the West Midlands and now live in Telford with my two cats, Boris and Tai. After working in the health and social care sector for over thirty years, I have now taken early retirement to write the trilogy that has been rooted in my head for most of my life.
Another Shot is the first book in the Shots trilogy, which is based on a first love relationship I had as a teenager. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop three decades after the end of their teenage romance. How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart, and what happens when they reunite is all told through a series of first person vignettes. The second book, An Extra Shot, will be published in July 2019. I am currently working on the final instalment.
Getting these stories down on paper has been a cathartic process. I hope you enjoy them. ‘

 Instagram @freddiejojoreunited

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