Self-help novels are now everywhere. Coinciding with society’s increasing readiness to talk about their problems and embrace their struggles the self-help genre has bloomed. In turn, for those that make a success of the genre, they have to find something different to set them apart. A hook, a quirky quality to entice readers in. Gavin Oattes has it. He is a male Mary Poppins with plenty swearing to boot. And actually, although the latter may at times be unnecessary and the former at times a little unrealistic, it does work.
Life Will See You Now is a series of life lessons designed to help people live more and live better. Instead of being sandwiched between the two inevitabilities of birth and death people should get their heads out of their screens and start living. Jump in puddles, play hide and seek in their offices, dream big and create sparks which might just ignite a fire in others and change the world.
None of the lessons are necessarily new or earth-shattering but that is not to say people don’t need a reminder every so often and Oattes uses tales from his own life to give examples of what he means: the anxious little boy who so wanted to be in the pantomime but was too scared to go for it, the comedy trio who eventually lost the fun and the premature death of his father which hit home more than anything else why we should live in the moment and make as many of these moments as possible great.
Despite these poignant moments the writing is littered with humour and it would take a very cynical reader not to smile when Oattes gets 300 University students to try and hide in a lecture theatre but it is a little all over the place, jumping from past to present, one topic to another and although there are some excellent quotations throughout they are inserted in odd places ruining the flow somewhat of what is being read and subsequently the impact of the ‘lesson’ can be lost. These are, however, small flaws in what is otherwise a solid book, easy to read and digest and with wonderful pearls of wisdom such as “Be the milk”. (You will have to read and find out for yourself what that means…)