My Perfect Funeral
Five disabled people enter a classroom and meet an Art Therapist. It sounds like the start of a joke, but in fact, it’s the start of a great friendship, one which will change their lives. My Perfect Funeral is a fantastic story of an Art Therapy student and five people with different disabilities who come together at a daycare centre in London. He helps them overcome person traumas as they all grow together and closer during classes. Joseph falls head over heels for one of his students and one of the students hides a dark secret which inadvertently brings trouble to their doorstep and endangers all of their lives. You will laugh, cry and feel for each of the characters whilst at the same time understand that there’s no such thing as them and us.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book after reading the blurb, but I was intrigued. I’ve always been fascinated by therapies and art in particular is such a fabulous medium that to read a work of fiction incorporating its qualities was too good an opportunity for me to miss.
The first chapter is action packed, but by the end of it I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. I was surprised by its pace and its immediate violence, language and sexual gratification and was hesitant to read further. “What a weird start to the evening?” This was an understatement quote from what had already happened, but it’s not a question, it’s a statement and indeed it was a weird start to the book.
After that, the book calms down and we meet Joseph, the art therapy student who is the teacher. I never did understand why he couldn’t be a teacher and not a student, but there must have been a reason that I missed. One unfortunate blunder that Patrick made was to misspell Jackson Pollock as Pollack which seemed so incongruous when teaching the class and the reader about art. The way Patrick introduced the various disabilities of the students was sensitively handled and I quickly warmed to each individual character. Some of the art exercises were enlightening and it was beautiful to see how the friendships developed through the classes. There was also a very strong message throughout the book that anyone can achieve anything if they are given the opportunity, access or belief in themselves.
The title bugged me for most of the book because I just kept expecting various characters to die to live up to the title. Eventually, after many twists and turns it was a surprise when the character did pass as then the title made sense and the funeral was a lovely tribute to the character.
My only other criticism of the book is the characters kept going to Brighton and walking on the sand. Brighton is renowned as a pebbly beach, there is no sand, so why choose a place without researching it first. There are hundreds of seaside places with sand, but Brighton is definitely not one!
I give My Perfect Funeral 4 stars mainly because I enjoyed the art lessons so much, but the whole book kept me guessing, interested, and I needed to know what was going to happen next.