Thursday, 2 January 2020

The P45 Diaries by Ben Hatch


The P45 Diaries by Ben Hatch
Published in the UK in November 2013.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook via Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


"My name is Jay Golden and the reason I've started a diary is so that researchers will be able to piece together my early life when I'm a famous celebrity. It will help them get their facts straight and stop them having to rely on potentially corrupting sources such as Big Al from Big Al's Golden Delicious Doner Kebabs and dad who thinks I'm a prat. Following the triumph of my novel (“It Purred. Golden is a genius.”) I will give one interview to Melvyn Bragg at Quaglinos over seafood marinere and caramelised squid then disappear into obscurity to become a hermit like JD Salinger."

Jay is 18 and keeps a diary better than he keeps any job. His countless sackings and relentless taunting of his father’s BBC celebrity friends mix with the emotions of a family adjusting to loss. Desperate for literary fame, and unable to accept that a man with as many UCCA points as he has, must now show “hustle” in the lobby area of Chesham McDonalds, Jay dreams of running away to Africa to dig water wells, of becoming a freedom-fighter in Syria and of making it so big in the lawnmower business he owns a kidney-bean shaped swimming pool full of bunny girls. But first he has to get off his arse and stop watching Countdown in his pyjamas. In short he has to grow up. As poignant as it is funny, stand back to hear Jay’s unique insights on life, love and the correct amount of lettuce to apply to a McChicken sandwich.


This review was first blogged on Stephanie Jane in May 2014.

I discovered the existence of The P45 Diaries from the author on twitter ( @BenHatch ). From publicity there, I got the impression that this would be a light, silly tale of a teenager failing to hold down a job. And this is certainly true. However, there's also a lot more to the novel as we discover why our anti-hero, Jay Golden, is quite so flippant about his future.

The P45 Diaries jumps back and forth a year in time, Jay's diary entries gradually revealing his family's helplessness as they watch his mother dying from cancer. Having lost my own mother last year from lung cancer, these passages rang uncannily true. From initially being annoyed by Jay's puerile attitude, I began to understand him and also identified a little with my own escapism recently.

I liked Ben Hatch's direct writing style and he has a great turn of phrase. His portrayal of a family struggling to stay together and of the father's sheer frustration is great. I think the contrast between Jay's professional stupidity and psychological pain is what gives the novel its poignancy. I will definitely be downloading more of Hatch's books in the future.

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by Klever Case in
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6 comments:

  1. I tend to try and avoid books where characters have cancer. I found it too hard dealing with my mum's cancer decline over six months and I find it really hard to read books with cancer storylines now. But it looks like you've found a new author to enjoy and that is always a good thing!

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    1. I didn't know about the cancer storyline before starting The P45 Diaries and probably wouldn't have chosen to read it at that time had I known. As it was, the book was helpful in dealing with my own emotions after a similar situation, but it could have been too much too soon

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  2. It seems like Jay grows on you the more you read, the more you understand why he is the way he is. I feel like that kind of matches how we need to react to people in real life. You never know why they are the way they are until you know more about them and sometimes it's good to give people the benefit of doubt...

    Olivia-S @ Olivia's Catastrophe

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    1. Exactly! I didn't like him much to start with, but as we begin to learn more about why he behaves as he does, the character really grew on me

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  3. There is no way I could handle this book. I'd just be a big old depressed ball of sadness. I can't handle cancer stories as it touches too close to home. But I am glad you liked it!

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    1. The story itself isn't ultimately that depressing, but I think it needs trigger warnings because it could be very difficult if the reader was still emotionally vulnerable from a similar situation themselves

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