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on 6 June 2014
Although there are elements of comedy in this thoroughly excellent novel, it would be wrong to read this for a laugh. I think that the 'one star reviewers' have simply misunderstood this.

I see the main character, Jay Golden as suffering from an existential crisis. He has been through the grief of losing his mother to cancer and he just cannot relate to the world of work, with all its fake values and demands. It's all so pointless to him. All he wants is to be a creative writer, not someone stuck behind a desk or selling lawnmowers. He is so alienated from the world that he enjoys winding up famous people and getting them to swear at him. In this he demonstrates how little he regards fame and status and himself.

Jay is trapped in his grief and inertia but he gradually realizes that he loves his girlfriend and wants to run away from reality with her into a great and exciting adventure. But Jay doesn't 'fit in' with society, his girlfriend's or his father's expectations. His feeling of alienation begins to translate itself into physical symptoms.

Some of the bad reviews complain that nothing happens and that the story is boring. I see that as precisely the point. It shows how boring and unfulfilling life can be when you want to follow your dream and society is continually trying to drag you into dull conformity. The story focuses on the day to day routine and the petty arguments and demands made upon us.

Some of the bad reviews say that the character isn't likeable. But beneath his exterior apathy and his childish pranks, we see how much Jay loved his mother and how he is lost without her. He also loves his younger brother and his father (when he stops nagging him.)

The pain and tragedy of his mother's death is portrayed so masterfully. This is no fiction. I think it has to come from the author's own experience. I relate to what Jay does. I too kept things that belonged to my mother. I too sniffed them to conjure up her memory and presence, knowing that this too will fade away in a short time. Jay's mother is so well painted, she was just real to me.

A profoundly moving and genuine glance at grief, love, everyday life and dreams that don't come true. Don't be put off by the few bad reviews here.
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on 4 February 2014
I absolutely adored this book. I read it within a few days because I simply couldn't put it down. It's emotional and humorous, you'll be crying one moment and then laughing the next!

Jay has tragically lost his mum to cancer and finds it difficult to hold a job down. He has a strained relationship with his father and feels lost. I find Jay so relatable being a 22 year old on their 10th job whose felt lost and alone in the past. Of course, I don't know the pain in which Jay has gone through (thank God) but Jay tells it in such a way that it tugs at the heartstrings.

Above all that, Jay is hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud (in public) mutliple times when reading this book and I honestly can't wait to read it again! It reminds me of The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, two of my favourites. I would definitely recommend this book and I can't wait to read Ben Hatch's other novels!
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on 8 January 2014
Ok I'm trying not to give too much away and I tend not to write a synopsis of the book as you can probably find that from other reviews. What can I say about this? Usually I'm not a fan of diary style books but this has to be the exception. It just works and I really couldn't imagine the story being told any other way. There is a lot of content that everyone will be able to relate to (some of Jay's behaviour filled me with horror and a few giggles as it reminded me of my own teenage years). This touching (and in some places, deliberately annoying, story) is handled so well with perfect sensitivity when dealing with a difficult situation and laugh out loud humour in others. A great read and, although deliberately frustrating in parts, utterly and completely worth reading right to the very end.
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on 3 January 2014
I'm never sure what to write for a book review, it's a bit like wine tasting, some people get very worked up about it comparing vintages, grapes etc., whereas I like the wine or I don't like it and I don't care if it cost £5 or £500 a bottle. I was advised (when wine tasting) to be honest and say the first thing that came into my head and not bother about those buffs who think they know everything so I'm going to do the same with my book review.

I loved this book. At first I thought it was simply going to be amusing but soon realised it went a lot deeper with intimate thoughts, feelings and even deeds disclosed to the reader. It was a journey traveled by a young man coming to terms with the death of his mother from cancer and all the other trials and tribulations that face a teenager as he becomes a man. Sibling rivalry, sibling protection, what a wonderful big brother Jay was for dear Charlie, taking care of him, standing up for him when necessary and allowing him to indulge in his OCD urges, in fact encouraging him!

I lost patience with the teenage Jay at times, most of his problems were self-inflicted but I felt sorry for him and wanted him to succeed. His father's drinking and attitude didn't help. He carried out most of his threats so at least showed consistency of behavior. I felt sympathy for both father and son and recalled experiences of a similar nature from my own teenage years but as an insolent daughter to my long suffering widowed mother.

The book is written with flashbacks, a style on which I'm not keen because I can easily be confused but this time I wasn't. I found the writing honest, witty, extremely readable (if I can say that) and the sections with Jay and his dying mother are written with a poignancy and understanding acquired in adulthood.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book as an excellent read and I give it 5 stars without reservation.
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on 12 January 2014
This book is about 18 year old Jay Golden, who would love nothing more than to become a writer but doesn't seem to get past his third page. In the meantime he cannot hold a job down, which drives his family mad. There is his younger brother Charlie who loves his teenage mutant ninja turtles, who wont leave the skin on his elbows alone. There is his older sister Sarah who no longer lives with them and is getting married. Then there is is long suffering dad who had to take the roles of both parents after losing his wife, Jay's mum to cancer. The story takes place in the year following his mums passing and it is about how they all cope in the aftermath. It is a funny heart warming coming of age book which will make you laugh and it will also make you cry.
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on 8 April 2014
Give me a book like this rather than sentimental toothpaste like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The P45 Diaries paints a brilliant picture of a layabout who has been gifted all the opportunities he could hope for, but would rather dwell on the problems/issues of those around him. His acerbic observations will make you chuckle, as will the clever use of modern celebrity references, but the novel also has a serious side which is important in helping the reader sympathise with the lead character. A worthwhile read, if ultimately slightly more throwaway than the author probably intended.
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on 22 April 2014
Someone growing up in a family where the mother takes in ironing, and a father who works for the Beeb can't be an easy topic to write about, especially when Mum gets cancer.

Jay's life is never the same when his mum becomes ill and relationships turn rather sour for him; until the story almost ends. Then, we see a change - especially when Jay, himself becomes unwell. Then, it seems, he and his dad make up and life takes a better turn. Sometimes funny, often sad; well written.
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on 6 May 2014
Ben Hatch is a wonderful discovery for me, a terrific writer. Who'd have thought I could empathise with his anti-hero, a well brought up eighteen-year-old lad from a loving family, despite frequently being infuriated by his smart-arsed remarks, idleness and pig-headed irresponsibility? Jay's an intelligent, imaginative and essentially good-hearted young man, whose emotions are in a mess for reasons you'll have to find out for yourself. You'll have a marvellous time doing so.
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on 5 May 2014
A super story where you knew that the protagonist would be ok by the end. Jay was a most likeable character whose antics were hilariously ridiculous at times. He had a real soft side and cared for Charlie his brother with an endearingly tender touch. I could identify with so much about this story as I lost my own mother to cancer recently. The plot very cleverly weaved its way from past to present throughout. A top class read which I shall definitely recommend. More Ben hatch please.
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on 25 April 2014
This is the second book I've read by Ben Hatch and it didn't disappoint. He seems to very easily be able to combine hilarity with sadness. The main character, Jay Golden, is simultaneously frustrating, yet utterly endearing as he struggles to make his way in the world after a massive loss. The small details which make up Jay's relationships is what makes him so genuine and likable. I would highly recommend this, and have tissues at the ready for tears of sadness and laughter!
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