Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Poppy Day and Martin Cricket have had equally bad upbringings, but they formed a friendship as children, developing an unbreakable bond. Their lives at home were terrible, but they had each other for support. Now, as adults, they still have each other, however, they are about to be separated as Martin is leaving to go and fight in Afghanistan. Poppy never wanted her husband to sign up for the army but Martin wants a better life for them and for them to move out of their cramped flat with drug users on the doorstep. Now Poppy is on her own in their flat with only her best friend, Jenna for company and her nan, suffering from dementia and living in a nearby care home.
Poppy is at the flat making lunch when there is a knock at the door. She sees the two uniformed soldiers on the doorstep and knows immediately that something terrible has happened to Martin. Martin has been captured during an ambush while out of their compound with a group of American soldiers and the army have no idea whether he is alive or dead. Poppy is forced to sit back and wait for news of her husband, the days turning into weeks with no obvious signs of progress or answers. Poppy fears the army have given up on Martin and that she is the only one who cares whether he is rescued or not. So she decides to take matters into her own hands. No longer able to sit back and do nothing, Poppy takes action. If the army won’t rescue her husband, she’ll fly to Afghanistan and bring him home herself.
Poppy Day is told from both Poppy and Martin’s point of view and I was a bit reluctant to read Martin’s chapters, worried about how graphic the violence inflicted on him was going to be, but I needn’t have worried. While Martin is mistreated and beaten, it is usually mentioned afterwards rather than being written about in great detail. I enjoyed reading about Poppy and Martin as they grew up together, clinging onto their friendship through their rubbish childhood, but I did find the first part of the book incredibly slow. However, the pace picked up as soon as Poppy made the decision to bring Martin home and the pages flew by.
I found the whole book to be very well written and both humorous and touching. Poppy and Martin are completely devoted to one another, their bond so deep that Poppy would risk everything to rescue him. Poppy could be naïve at times but she is also brave and smart and willing to do whatever it takes to keep her husband safe.