Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine

The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola Patient 1: Forgetting and Finding Myself by Charlotte Raven

- DIALOGUE BOOKS, £14.99 (EBOOK, £8.99) REVIEW BY JESSICA FRANK-KEYES JONATHAN CAPE, £14.99 (EBOOK, £9.99) REVIEW BY KATIE WRIGHT

The Selfless Act of Breathing is a heartfelt and searing exploratio­n of depression, told through the eyes of a young, black, male teacher in London who is struggling. Michael Kabongo decides to fly to America with his life savings, and see where they take him. It’s a devastatin­g and insightful story, exploring everything from sex and love to loss and the inner angst that led Kabongo to explore this fraught new path. The book runs along two timelines, and the narrative jumps do sometimes prove jarring. While the ending leaves some questions unanswered, readers will be swept up in the sheer beauty of Bola’s writing.

A journalist whose career thrived during the hedonistic Nineties, Charlotte Raven was forced to swap illegal narcotics for a raft of pharmaceut­ical drugs when, at 35, she was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, an incurable genetic condition that causes the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain and, eventually, death. Raven set out to chronicle her experience in a blog, eventually becoming this chatty, irreverent memoir. Frank about her own perceived flaws (narcissist­ic, selfish, bad with money) and the debilitati­ng effects of the disease (clumsiness, brain fog, dwindling sex drive, suicidal thoughts, loneliness), the author doesn’t pull any punches.

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