A huge thanks to Dave and crew over at #TheWriteReads for organising this book tour and to Bryan Blears for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Based on the author’s own experiences of leaving home and travelling across Europe on less than a pound a day, These Walls Were Never Really There is a compelling true story described by publishing editors as ‘immersive and moving’ and ‘a potential prizewinner in the making’.
Initially set in the heart of Manchester’s homeless community, These Walls follows twenty-year-old Cameron, who is propelled on a physical and spiritual journey which will take him far from the life he once knew.
A surprising story about mental health, friendship and redemption, this compelling debut will take you on a journey across Europe and beyond, as Cameron and his travelling companion Jacob navigate perilous border crossings, packs of wolves, and the harsh realities of life on the road.
Set against the backdrop of the emerging Arab Spring, Cameron and Jacob will have their friendship pushed to its limits as they find themselves trapped thousands of miles away from home…
Genre: Adult Literary Fiction
Length: 286 Pages
Publishing: 1th April 2022
These Walls Were Never Really There is a compelling and fascinating tale of a young man names Cameron and his mental and physical journey to change his life and circumstances. It is a work of fiction however at times it is so raw and real that it could easily feels more like a memoir – which for me made it feel more personal and emotive.
We meet Cameron as he is leaving his life behind after an impulsive decision. Straight away we are led into his life as a newly homeless young adult (by choice) and it’s terrifying and soul destroying. In many ways Cam presented as a youngster with no aim, purpose or motivation but taking a step back and looking at it in more detail – things were not okay for him at home and in his previous life and despite not always making wise choices, he did make choices to remove himself from that. Through Cam’s eyes and experiences, you get a real sense of living on the streets. The ugly side but also the side which is full of different characters you meet and a totally different way to experience life. It really made me think about a lot of things that I take for granted. Cam’s plight really highlights the struggles related to mental health, poverty and deprivation and the importance of being surrounded by people who believe in you and offer you support to push yourself.
Cameron begins his impulsive travels around Europe by walking and hitching for lifts. It’s another impulsive decision for him and it was no surprise that many barriers. It does highlight the resilience cam has though.
This book is a double edge sword as it focuses on social inequality, homelessness, and despair but, there’s also a feeling of triumph, resilience, and determination too. It’s an emotional roller coaster that’s for sure.
Surprisingly, this is a debut novel and I think it shows how Blears has a tremendous writing style which sucks you into a character’s life. I am looking forward to reading more of Bryan’s novels in the future and highly recommend this one.
Author Bio – Bryan Blears
Bryan Blears is an author of contemporary literary fiction from Salford, Manchester. He has written for the Huffington Post, the New Statesman and the Philosophical Society of England, among others.
Focusing on social issues, mental health and overcoming personal adversity, his fiction has been compared to George Orwell, Sylvia Plath and Donna Tartt. His debut novel, These Walls Were Never Really There, has been described by critics as an ‘immersive and moving true story’ and ‘a fantastic talent, and a potential prizewinner in the making.’