Review of A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

Published: 19th June 2014
Publisher: Hutchinson
Pages: 416


This is the story of what happens when Issy Bradley dies.

It is the story of Ian – husband, father, maths teacher and Mormon bishop – and his unshakeable belief that everything will turn out all right if he can only endure to the end, like the pioneers did. It is the story of his wife Claire’s lonely wait for a sign from God and her desperate need for life to pause while she comes to terms with what’s happened.

It is the story of the agony and hope of Zippy Bradley’s first love. The story of Alma Bradley’s cynicism and reluctant bravery. And it is the story of seven-year-old Jacob. His faith is bigger than a mustard seed, probably bigger than a toffee bonbon and he’s planning to use it to mend his broken family with a miracle.


Thank you to Charlotte at Random House for kindly sending me a review copy. Carys and I attended the same University, so I couldn’t wait to read. I’ve met her before and the passion she has for writing is inspiring.

In the opening called Footprints In The Sand, we’re given a sneak peek into what is happening now before we’re taken back a couple of months. It’s highly descriptive with beautiful imagery along with plenty of Biblical references. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy this book. I don’t attend Church every Sunday but I thought the links to the Bible and God were superb additions. We don’t know much about Claire: we don’t know her age, why she’s upset, what she does for a living… We know nothing but then we’re taken back to a few months previous.

Book One: All Is Well is where we meet the Bradley family. Be prepared to fall in love with the family like I did because they were truly superb. Claire and Ian are parents to Zippy, Alma, Jacob and Issy. We learn of their individual lives, opinions and thoughts as the opening book progresses. At the end of each chapter, we hear from Issy. I’ve never loved a child character so much and what struck me the most was that we barely knew her.

Book Two: The Lord Gave And The Lord Hath Taken Away is the most emotional book out of them all. Carys has been quite clever in terms of using the Biblical references and turning them into chapter titles which clearly indicate what may happen in the following chapters. After a calm opening, the drama and emotion is turned up to the max. I felt emotionally involved with the Bradley family and really feared for them. The memories of the past are heartwarming and allow us to understand their family much more. It’s not just about Issy, it’s about the entire family and as they grieve, their lives drastically change and they find themselves doing things which they wouldn’t normally do.

Book Three: Then Hezekiah Turned His Face Towards The Wall shows the characters changing even more as they adapt to a life without Issy. It was shocking at times as Claire (the mother) changes the most. I felt highly sympathetic towards her. It’s shocking to the system but it’s also realistic and that’s whyΒ A Song For Issy BradleyΒ is such a well loved book.

Book Four: In The World Ye Shall Have Tribulation was the most alarming part of the novel as I found myself to be disappointed in Ian (the father) as he did nothing to help his wife Claire. I became frustrated with him as he left her to her own devices.

Book Five: A Day Of Miracles brings the narrative back to where it all began, but before we meet up with Footprints In The Sand once more, we learn the truth about Claire’s dream and how it showed her the way. I was on edge at this point in the book because I didn’t know whether she was going to do something stupid or whether she’d see sense.

Once we’re back with Footprints In The Sand, we watch as Claire makes a decision. Nobody knows what will happen next and I found myself holding my breath quite a lot. It was a truly incredible ending and did the rest of the novel justice.

Twitter:Β @CarysBray
Website: www.carysbray.co.uk
Blog: www.postnatalconfession.blogspot.com