For George, things should be going well. Having made the decision to skip university in favor of a farm apprenticeship, he’s doing work that he loves. George is head over heels for Ellie, his long-time girlfriend, and even though she’s away at school, they’ve made the long distance thing work. Until it doesn’t. When Ellie breaks things off, George is devastated and lashes out at the person he blames most — a bartender George is convinced is sleeping with Ellie.
Jack barely knows Ellie and he certainly hasn’t slept with her, so getting blamed for the end of her relationship with George is just another in a long line of unfair curveballs life has hurled at him. Jack is desperate for something in his world to change, he just doesn’t know what. George is initially aggressive and threatening, but as they get to know one another, Jack realizes George is just as lost as he is. And two lonely men might just find a way to be happy, if they’re willing to work at it.
It’s very hard to enjoy a book when you loathe one of the main characters for nearly half the novel and that’s unfortunately the situation with A Bit of You. George is an utter jackass for the first fifty percent of the story and completely unlikable. He’s churlish, immature, whiny, and just an all around jerk. He manages to make everything about him and, in doing so, ignores his friends and family as he’s consumed by his own drama. His personality improves about the time he stops blaming Jack for the end of his relationship with Ellie, but this happens abruptly, almost like flipping a light switch, so it didn’t read as believable. And even when he seems kinder, I found it hard to forget his earlier behavior. Because George is such a jerk, he ends up overshadowing Jack, who felt washed out and bland. He’s just sort of there and given that he had the far more interesting backstory, I was disappointed to find him so lackluster.
A Bit of Me reads as very much of a specific place, complete with slang and a rhythm to the speech patterns of the characters. As far as I can tell, the book takes place around the Essex area of England and there is strong English flavor to the book. But conversations between the characters read as somewhat stiff and wooden. The jokes often fall flat because they fail to flow as part of a natural conversational structure. The exception to this is George’s grandmother, Pam, who is by far the funniest and raunchiest character, but she also feels the most natural. We’ve all met a Pam in our life and probably loved her to bits for her cutting barbs and wise counsel. She’s an absolute doll and stands out as a real highlight of the book. For all of that, the writing isn’t bad and there’s definitely a sense of depth to the overall story that I appreciated.
A Bit of Me didn’t really work for me. I disliked one of the main characters so thoroughly that even as he redeemed itself, I couldn’t manage to connect with him. This said, A Bit of Me is decently written and aside from some uneven conversational speech, it isn’t a bad story. So while it didn’t work for me, I think there are plenty of readers who might find enjoyment here.