Published by Barrington Stoke.
Review by Ayesha Zahid.
In less than 100 pages, Mind the Gap by Phil Earle is able to capture raw emotion, plenty of action, the struggles of grief and a beautiful friendship. For such a short story, it really packs a punch. The story itself is told through the words of an unnamed narrator who travels great distances to try and comfort his bereaved best friend, Mikey. One of the key aspects of this story was the realistic portrayal of the lives of Mikey, his best friend and how important friendship is, especially during the difficult struggles of life. It opens your eyes to the fact that everyone has different coping mechanisms and sometimes, it’s the small things in life that can mean the most. And importantly, it’s wonderful to see such an emotional connection between two boys.
Mikey doesn’t have a lot to remind him of his dad because as an actor, he was always away trying to find jobs. So after his dad’s sudden death, Mikey’s memories of him start to fade. Trapped in a void of depression and misery, Mikey has not only lost his dad but is also starting to lose himself. Using alcohol to drown the thoughts and getting involved in fights purely to feel pain, or any sensation to distract him from the numbness, Mikey is completely detached from the world. His best friend is determined to bring Mikey back and to help by finding something of his father’s legacy; anything that would help to return some life to the fading memories. The narrator goes through great hardship, searching far and wide – dealing with hard-hearted people along the way – to find some comfort for Mikey. The way this story unfolds is truly striking; we see the upsetting progression of Mikey’s approach to dealing with grief, uncover the realities about his dad, find out if there’s a way to help and then finally, discover the significant connection with the London underground. This book will provide you with a rollercoaster of emotions with its truthful words portraying loss, violence, alcoholism, friendship, attachment and hope.
Overall, this is a short but extremely heart-wrenching read. This is definitely a book that I will read again and it’s unreal how much emotion can be contained into such a short story; I highly recommend it!