Tell Me the Planets by Ben Platts-Mills starts off with a quote from Oliver Sacks, a man whose books I am a fan of. We then meet Matthew who is exceptionally intelligent and brain injured. Sid is the next person we are introduced too. Again brain injured, he is not as fluent or lucid as Matthew. He also requires some distraction from his regular question “can I have a cigarette now?”. Both of these people are survivors who are seen at Headway (East London) by the author. Over this book we are introduced to other Headway survivors and their stories.
To start with I found the reading easy and was caught up in Matthew’s story particularly. During the book other brain injured people are introduced. The stories varied rather for me. Some were more interesting than others. I realise that I had a proof copy of this book however there was little or no signposting about the time periods or who the text referred to in my copy. Equally, within individual stories there was no real continuity and little to indicate whether a section was about an earlier time or not. This very unstructured approach didn’t hold me very well sadly.
Ultimately I found myself happily engaged with Matthew’s story whenever it appeared in the Tell Me the Planets. One or two of the other people’s stories certainly interested me however the rather random and disjointed approach to telling their stories didn’t work well for me. This book does contain some very worthwhile stories about brain injured people and, peripherally, the excellent work that Headway does for them. It may take patience and digging to get the best out of this book however.
Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review