Five Steps to Happy is a novel by magazine journalist Ella Dove. It is inspired by real events in Ella’s life after she suffered a devastating accident where she experienced a life-changing injury. Ella’s story is unique as is the tale she has weaved about her lead character Heidi. Both are about becoming an amputee but the novel has a great message about how all our lives can change in an instant and we learn to cope with a new reality and perhaps gain from it too.
In May 2016 Ella went jogging with her sister. She tripped and fell. Fate may have meant this was just a minor blip but Ella dislocated her knee and also had a bad fracture. Together, these facts meant that the blood supply to her foot stopped. Within a week she was an amputee. Ella is a strong woman who has transformed this experience into a positive writing her first novel and inspiring other people. She is a great ambassador to show that with determination, resilience and a positive mental attitude, we can carry on our lives in a meaningful way even when life throws us curveballs as it always will.
Five Steps to Happy
The novel is a story about another woman called Heidi who also has a fall. It is not Ella’s story as such but she has clearly drawn on her own experiences and the novel is better for that. The early scenes in the hospital were very real and detailed. The last time I remember reading such descriptions was when I was reading Katie Piper’s story of recovering from her acid attack. I think only a person who had suffered a sudden injury could have written such scenes so well.
I found I wanted to follow Heidi’s story so would describe this book as a good page turner. However, I thought I knew one thing that was going to happen and that irritated me. I thought Heidi would have a romance and worked out who with. I was completely wrong as it turned out. Funnily enough, so was Heidi who made an assumption about the facts surrounded her fall which later proved to be erroneous.
I felt all the characters were really easy to get to know so the characterisation in the novel is excellent. I found myself caring about them all even the less attractive ones such as the men in the recovery centre or the man I thought Heidi would fall in love with. My absolute favourite character was Maud, the humorous and sage older woman who Heidi is placed with when she arrives at the recovery centre.
Life changes for everyone
Just before my Dad died he told me “Life changes”. It felt meaningful rather than just two little words. After he died it has acted as a comfort. It is doing so today as I face my son moving overseas tomorrow. When life changes for one person, there is a ripple effect across friends, colleagues and family members. Heidi does not see this initially as she grieves the loss of her limb and is understandably angry. Over time she realises that she is not the only victim of the accident. Not will she be its only survivor. Many lives will be changed for good and ill by that fall.
Overall impression of Five Steps to Happy
I do love a good page turner. I felt very invested in several of the characters. There was one of those “will they, won’t they?” partnerships going on with complications as friendships and relationships always have. I felt Heidi became a nicer person as the book continued which is not to say that she was not OK at the beginning. This was a novel with sad bits, funny parts, surprises and mysteries along the way. That is good enough for me and I recommend you read it.