Review of: The Journey I Don’t Remember by James Shover


The debut novel from a brand new talent.

This is a terrifying horror story—only it isn’t. It’s a man’s life. The point is that what happened to this author could happen to any one of us on any ordinary day.

One second you’re living your normal best life—the next, your world is turned upside down. Bang. Done. Changed. He’s a different person from the man he was yesterday—but he looks just the same. What’s most debilitating in this story is not the physical injury suffered but the years of mental anguish that followed.

So one morning, James kisses his wife Anna goodbye, Grabs his butty box and his flask and goes to work. He’s a young man in his early thirties and has been in the same job all his adult life. He makes industrial doors for a living. Never known anything else.

In a freak accident. He gets knocked on the head by a tool used for the job—in layman’s terms, it has the weight and velocity of a big old hammer.

He goes to the hospital and is told he has a concussion. ‘Go home and get some sleep,’ they say. What? ‘You’ll be fine,’ they say. It’s just a concussion.

Then the headaches come. They turn into horrible-unbearable migraines. If it was just that, he could probably live with it.

But his personality changes overnight. He has blazing fits of anger that, as a mild-mannered man, he doesn’t understand. He doubts himself and his abilities. He says he could be a bit cocky in the old days—he’s had the cock knocked right out of him. The outgoing man has loads of mates, loves his job, and is socially extroverted, but he sinks into himself. It’s a gradual decline.

And then the depression hits. It’s worse than the tool that caused his injury and knocks him for six like a sledgehammer. James doesn’t recognise himself.

It takes time to get a proper diagnosis. Still eventually, he’s diagnosed with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). So we know what it is—now he has to learn how to deal with it.

The second evil in this horror story is having to stand up to bureaucracy to get his basic rights met. A seven-year-long battle of David and Goliath’s enormity ensues.

A fantastic story of courage and tenacity told in plain English and with honesty. James Shover doesn’t paint himself in bright, glorious colours. He tells it like it is. An inspirational story with a lot of good advice to help other people going through similar situations. He says he wants to help other people cope, but this is no preachy book telling you how to live your life. He just tells you how he lives his. Ten years later, he still has migraines, temper flare-ups with very little provocation, and periods of depression with deep-seated apathy.

But he deals.

He says he isn’t a writer—I beg to differ. This story is engaging, interesting—and real. A fly-on-the-wall slice of life.

A story of challenge in dark and light—beautifully told.

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