I was so irritated on Ava’s behalf that her GP showed so little understanding of her condition or any sympathy and just kept saying it would get better. I would imagine this is similar for many people with the same problems and I really felt for her. If I could have given her a cuddle, I would have. If you read my author spotlight earlier this week, you’ll know that a lot of what Ava goes through is inspired by the author’s own experience of illness. This means that the way the author portrays Ava and her illness feels very authentic. I feel I learned a lot about this particular condition from the book, gained a better understanding.
When an ordinary park bench becomes a lifeline …
As a primary school teacher, Ava Lam is familiar with the ‘buddy bench’: a rainbow painted bench where sad or lonely children can sit to show they need a friend.
But are buddy benches just for kids? Ava might have assumed so – until she finds herself sobbing her heart out on a park bench and a kind stranger sits down next to her.
The stranger, Dr Sam Stone, has a house, an impressive job and he’s even training for a marathon – all things that have become painfully out of reach for Ava in her new and scary circumstances. But whilst Sam appears to have everything figured out, it seems he needs a sympathetic ear just as much as she does.
Is the encounter a one-off, or could the ‘buddy bench’ begin to represent a source of comfort and support that will become precious to them both?
I had Hannah Pearl as my Author in the Spotlight on Tuesday and today I’m sharing my review of Meet Me on the Buddy Bench. You can read Hannah’s spotlight feature here. Thanks to Liz at ChocLit for providing a copy of the book for review.
About the Author
About the book
Meet Me on the Buddy Bench is an emotional and touching story. It doesn’t gloss over the realities of long term illness and grief but, nevertheless, it is a tender and uplifting love story.
There is a marked contrast between the two characters. Sam seems to have everything that Ava is losing – a lovely house, a successful and fulfilling career, and good health. However, the emotional connection between them is so strong that I hoped they could overcome their problems together. That emotional connection which begins as a supportive and caring friendship then slowly develops into a deeper love which was so lovely to read about.
Male friendship is also shown as really important and that between Sam and Alex was nicely done. What a great friend Alex was, always there to listen to Sam, just to be a support when needed. So often male mental health hasn’t been thought of as something people talk about but the importance of support for Sam through his grief is clear.
The story begins when a chance meeting on a park bench brings together Ava and Sam, two people who are both very much in need of a listening ear. Ava is struggling to come to terms with a long-term illness while Sam is getting over the loss of his wife.
You’ll find buying options for Meet Me on the Buddy Bench on the ChocLit website
Buying Link: Meet Me on the Buddy Bench

Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.
In 2015 she was struck down by Labrynthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.
She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.

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