Head for the Edge, Keep Walking by Kate Tough

Friends Like Theseheadfortheedge-620x925

Head for the Edge, Keep Walking, the debut novel by Kate Tough, follows a year in the life of Jill Beech; a woman in her mid thirties forced to leave the familiar for the unknown; the day-to-day for the irregular;
the safe for the adventurous. Pushed into loneliness, Jill Beech is forced to re-evaluate her whole life after the
break up of a long term relationship. Kate Tough provides us with a window into Jill Beech’s dating experiences, friendships, health status, career choices and her innermost thoughts.

Jill Beech’s life is seen through herm eyes alone, jumping from scene to scene, connecting the funny, harrowing and nervewracking situations she finds herself in. Jill is a reflective character; the conclusions drawn from her reminiscing can be a little frustrating at times, however this is an enjoyable frustration because Tough has created a character worth caring about. I found myself talking to her in my own inner monologue.

The expressive and unexpectedly accurate metaphors Tough imagines make Jill’s character so realistic you feel the urge to text her to meet for a mid-week glass of wine. It is a little like a fly on the wall documentary following one woman as her life changes through the course of a year, with the added bonus of her innermost thoughts: “Hilary handles her coat buttons like they’re children who’re taking too long over something.”

Jill observes her friends closely in a caring yet critical way throughout her story, allowing you to ‘know’ her friends even if it is only through Jill’s eyes. Early on in the novel Jill finds herself in her own company, filling the time by watching those around her: “I look around at people I don’t know and make assumptions about them.”

The most interesting thoughts she has are those that she would never say out loud, observations that in this reader/character relationship are interesting and strangely comforting. It is possible to know Jill in a way that we may not even know our closest friends.

I would like Jill Beech to be my friend. I lingered over some chapters because I wanted to spend longer with her.
I read some chapters quickly because like a friend sharing gossip, I couldn’t wait to discover what happened next. When Jill’s story came to an end, I missed her; I wanted to know what she was doing… what she was thinking. This is not a typical break up book. Jill’s unpredictable, frustrating, and funny life made me laugh, and cry, and remember. Just like a good friend.

– Mrs Tabitha Twitchit

Head for the Edge,
Keep Walking
Kate Tough
Cargo Publishing, RRP £8.99, 272pp