Please Read This Leaflet Carefully by Karen Havelin
Karen Havelin's Please Read This Leaflet Carefully excels in capturing the nuances of personal relationships
Laura Fjellstad has forged a life for herself that she had once thought impossible. From a young age, she’s lived with chronic pain and a host of acute allergies, and she was diagnosed with endometriosis in her early twenties. Now in her mid-thirties, Laura has landed on a fulfilling rhythm for her life.
This is where we enter Laura’s story and, in a way, this is also where it ends, for Please Read This Leaflet Carefully is a story told in reverse. As the years rewind, from 2016 to 1995, readers witness her life unfold; Laura discovers the heartache and triumphs of relationships with family, friends and romances while negotiating her uncooperative body. Pushing through emotional and physical pain, she rides the wave of her life that takes her from Norway to England, Paris to New York City.
Havelin's debut excels in capturing the nuances of personal relationships that some readers may find familiar: tension with a parent, absolute devotion to a child, as well as the odyssey of exploring one's own sexuality. Throughout it all is the thread of chronic illness as it disrupts and challenges Laura, though the novel makes it clear that even if you don’t have control over every aspect of your life, you can still have control over your own narrative. Like all stories with poetic realism, Laura’s isn’t neat, but readers will treasure her as she finds her footing with remarkable humanity.
Dead Ink, 31 May, £11.99