Please Don't Go: Big John's Journey Back to Life - John Hartson
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Review of "Please Don't Go: Big John's Journey Back to Life - John Hartson"
Finally back :-) Might take me a while to get back into things. I have missed writing
This book is no easy read, not because of the way it is written no that is fantastic but because of its content. It is certainly a story that will pull at your heart strings and you will find it near impossible to not have any tears. I had many while reading it. It is the story of how John Hartson the mega footballer battled his cancer and very nearly came to death.
When I was younger I used to be a huge football fan and most weekends were spent going to watch my local side and catching up with the news from the higher leagues with my dad. I could name many clubs and all their players with ease. What happened, I grew up and my interests changed and I got a boyfriend who had no interest in football. I do still remember the time I went to visit my dad and he said do you remember John Hartson who used to play for Celtic, he is riddled with cancer. I did remember him he was strong character on the pitch someone you couldn’t miss. My dad followed his progress in the press and would often tell me how he was getting on.
It was on a recent trip away my dad purchased his book about his struggle with cancer ‘Please don’t go, Big John’s journey back to life.’ He read it in a whole day and said although it was certainly an emotional read it was so cleverly written I had to give it a go, so I did. I didn’t manage it in a day my life is a little more hectic with two small boys but I managed it in 3 days! It was certainly a book I found hard to put down and I just hope my review does in justice.
The book starts with a lovely tribute from Martin O’Neil who was John’s manager at Celtic. This is the thing about the book it isn’t all written just from John’s perspective it has many people’s input that have had John as part of their life for one reason or another. Martin’s piece is followed by John’s preface and then Sarah’s preface then the prologue which gives you a great insight into who John Hartson is. In January 1995 he had his big break his Arsenal debut. If you’re not a football fan there is a lot of football in it as that is what John has always lived for but it is written in such a way it wouldn’t bore you. This guy had a huge passion for what he did it comes across a lot in this book. Something else I noticed was the difference in football these day back then John’s transfer deal made him the most expensive teenager at a 2.5 million transfer which earnt him £3250 a week. How money in football has changed just since then!
This book would have been difficult for John to pen together as there is a large section during his treatment he was not aware of what was going on but his youngest sister kept a diary going throughout. John thanks his sister in the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book. Victoria’s diary comes in once John goes into hospital. There are inserts of her diary alongside Sarah’s memories too. It is at this point the book becomes very emotional and some people may feel it is quite heavy to read. Even though I had tears at this point I had to read on. The detail of what John goes through is anything but brushed over it is relived in this book in detail. As you read it you feel the terror the family must have gone through while John was laying their fighting for his life.
The opening chapter takes you back to when John was six years old and football was just a dream for him. It is from here the clever writing becomes apparent. Not only does it change from the past many years ago to the person speaking in their present the actually narrator changes too as we get nearer to the point of Johns illness. It changes from John to Sarah his now wife back to John. I found this gave the book depth and certainly more emotion as you not only get to know how John is feeling but the impact it was having on his loved ones too.
It is at this point it becomes apparent were John’s strong character is from. His dad, Cyril becomes a dominant figure and his personality shines out. He is a big strong proud man who loves his son. He keeps everyone together during John’s treatment even though he is struggling with his own emotions. Anyone would be proud to have a father like him.
John not only had testicular cancer but he had a brain tumour and the cancer had also spread to his lungs. Reading this book wasn’t easy I found it very emotional. As I have mentioned every bit of John’s battle is in detail even to the point where John stops breathing which is described by John’s wife Sarah. To relive this writing this book most have been difficult.
It is certainly an emotional rollercoaster of a read but one that must be done. This book has been written fantastically and it has been a long time since I have read a book with such quality. I just couldn’t put it down and found myself picking it up at every opportunity I had. I would recommend anyone to read this book you don’t have to be a fully fledged football fan I certainly aren’t these days. As I borrowed this book from my dad it didn’t cost me a penny but I wouldn’t have minded paying a lot for this book it was outstanding. It is currently on Amazon for £5.29 Paperback or £10.99 Hardback. I would be quite happy to pay those prices.
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Product Information : Please Don't Go: Big John's Journey Back to Life - John Hartson
Manufacturer's product description
Author: John Hartson
Listed on Ciao since: 12/06/2011