This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
‘It is early. A young man stands on a bridge and lets out a heart-wrenching scream. From deep in the woods, something screams back.
‘It sounds improbable. But this is how Isaac meets the egg.
‘The two are unlikely companions. But their chance encounter will transform Isaac’s life in ways he cannot yet imagine.
‘Maybe he will finally understand why he went there that morning. Maybe he will find a way to tell the truth.
‘Sometimes, to get out of the woods, you have to go into them.’
In Isaac and the Egg, by Bobby Palmer, young widower Isaac is about to jump off a bridge when he hears something in the nearby woods.
Folded in on itself, it looks much like an egg - but when Isaac takes it home, Egg expands into a messy but well-meaning housemate.
Crazed by grief, and unwilling to face what’s happened in his life in recent months, Isaac finds companionship and a sense of purpose in Egg.
But Egg wants to know where Isaac goes for hours at a time, and what’s behind the locked door at the top of his house. Will he - and we - ever see Isaac tell the whole story?
Isaac and the Egg is quite a book. At first, the deceptively simple writing, and the skirting around of the devastating event that’s pitched Isaac into a living hell, made me wonder what I’d let myself in for. However, I found myself (much like Egg) absolutely gobbling the pages.
In fact, these very elements make a book that centres on the heavy topic of bereavement not only highly palateable, but enjoyable.
The straightforward, often comic language, periodically mixed with playful text design, means you absorb Isaac’s tragic story, and feel heartbroken for him, without it drowning you too.
The questions of what Isaac isn’t telling us, and what Egg is and where he came from, also had me speeding through the story, taking in vast swathes of it at every opportunity. The more you learn, the sadder you feel for both of them.
Isaac’s mental absences and denials, and the way he’s cut himself off from the world, are very authentic. Even when you’ve been in that brainspace yourself, you do sometimes get frustrated with his refusal to accept help or open up, but that’s because you want him to recover.
In flashbacks, you learn that before grief rubbed him raw, he was a slightly bumbling but ultimately loveable everyman.
Egg is, naturally, the star of the show. He resembles a monkey in some ways, but not others. His mannerisms, sounds, speech (Isaac teaches him English, but enunciation is an issue) and attempts to be helpful are adorable, and many of his interactions with Isaac are cute and/or hilarious.
One of the reading group questions at the back of the book asks: ‘do you believe the egg is real?’ While aware that Isaac and the Egg is marketed as contemporary fiction, I mentally placed it in the same liminal contemporary/sci-fi space as The Space Between Us, by Doug Johnstone, where a friendly alien facilitates connections and helps people heal. I want to believe!
Isaac and the Egg is unconventional, moving, and wonderful.