I loved this book! Utterly gripping, taking us on a roller-coaster ride of emotion, I was up till the early hours of the morning, literally unable to sleep till I'd finished this. I don't want to give away anything about the plot so will just say that this is brave, bold, uncompromising, abrasive, robust and without sentimentality. There is perhaps a touch of idealism in the portrait of Archie, the GP, but, frankly, the world of the book needs her.
The characterisation is fluently done, and - a rare thing - different characters really do have different voices. Max is a standout character: beautifully drawn and with real charm and charisma which we can feel. His friends and family, too, come to life: flawed, struggling to deal with what life hands out, making mistakes, but getting on with life anyway.
Be warned, this opens with a shockingly brutal and visceral act which is not just physically but also emotionally violent, and which left me feeling shaky.
I don't give out five stars easily, but this deserves them: intelligent, wryly funny, warm and compassionate, this is definitely a book I'll read again. Highly, highly recommended.