Catch Me When You Fall
On the day that 17-year-old Alex’s routine blood test shows that her leukaemia has returned, she meets Jamie and they click instantly. Finding your soul mate should be a joyous time but Alex and Jamie have to snatch precious moments to be together as she faces prolonged hospital treatment. However, Jamie has his problems too. Bipolar, he is supposed to take lithium, but doesn’t, and his actions impact terribly on Alex just as she is facing her worst time.
A consultant haematologist, Merriman nails the emotional trauma of frail teenagers living in a bubble, having to deal with serious health issues and wondering if they will recover. It will be compared to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars but I think it’s better. Alex and Jamie come across as real teenagers who take risks and display the typical angst and emotions, but at the same time they have to juggle lives fraught with abnormal stresses.
Beautifully written with tenderness and compassion, Merriman still doesn’t shy away from the bleakness of cancer treatment and mental health issues. There are also sex scenes, making this fabulous novel better suited to age 14+
Eileen Merriman works full-time as a consultant haematologist at North Shore Hospital. Her writing has appeared in a number of national and international journals and anthologies, including Smokelong Quarterly, The Island Review, Literary Orphans, the 2015 Bath Short Story Anthology, the Sunday Star-Times, F(r)iction, Takahe, Headland and Flash Frontier. Her awards include second in the 2015 Bath Flash Fiction Award, commended in the 2015 Bath Short Story Competition, third in the 2014 & 2015 Sunday Star-Times Short Story competitions, and first place in the 2015 Graeme Lay Short Story competition.