4 Muffins Book Reviews

Review of ‘The Boy In The Mirror’ by Tom Preston

I was approved this request on NetGalley and I was drawn in to the fact that it was autobiographical. I don’t usually read non-fiction like this, but I could tell this would be different from the description. The Boy In The Mirror was an insightful look into what it is like to live with cancer through chemotherapy treatment, stripped bare of all aspects found in a fiction novel which makes it seem so easy. It’s not! Read this and find out.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘The Boy In The Mirror’ by Tom Preston

In January 2011, aged 21, Tom Preston was diagnosed with stage 4 advanced aggressive lymphoma. His chances of survival were optimistically placed at around 40%. This short, autobiographical work tells the story of the fight in the months that followed – but this is no ordinary cancer memoir.

The Boy in the Mirror is written in the second person – so the events in this book are happening to you, the reader, living through the hope, love, suffering, death and black comedy encountered by Tom during the battle to save himself. 

My Review

For this review, I ask you to bare with me, as I haven’t reviewed an autobiography before, so it will be a bit different to my usual writing. The Boy In The Mirror is written in second person, as if you are the one with the cancer, and the cancer telling it’s own story about what is happening to you. Even though this is the case, deep down, I knew I was following Tom in his battle with his illness, throughout the diagnosis and the aggressive treatment that followed. As this was such a rigorous course of chemo, the book moved at such a fast pace, constantly letting the reader know how Tom felt through each stage of treatment, and those feelings and emotions were reflected onto me. There were several times when I felt psychological pain due to how detailed the descriptions were, and how it was written.

I would usually write about the characters in the story here, but seeing as this is an autobiography, that’s pretty difficult to do, especially due to the style of writing, so I’ll skip to telling you my ‘favourite’ part of the book. In an autobiography like this, it is difficult to highlight a ‘favourite’ part, as it was all very tense, painful and real, but I would say that the most emotional part of the book was when Tom found out that the treatment had been successful and he was able to go home with his family. After reading up to that point of everything he had gone through, it felt amazing to know that he was free to go. Again, the stye of writing helped with this emotion, because of the second person element, it felt as though it was happening to me as a reader. Another part that really stood out for me was when Tom was hearing a high pitched electrical sound, which was greatly frustrating him, yet no one seemed to know what to do. At this point, Tom decided he would investigate by himself and eventually found the source of the problem. I felt a sense of accomplishment here, but this time, it was more for Tom than for me. Having read how frustrated he had been feeling, and finally fixing the problem must have been such a sense of relief.

There were moments in the book when, yes, I did cry. So many times through the book when Tom must have experienced so much physical and emotional pain, which was almost pushed onto me as a reader, which made it all the more harder. Moments when he had to quickly turn his life around after his diagnosis, and especially the times when he said goodbye to his family after visits, were the hardest moments in the book.

Even though the book was short, I felt like I had been on such a rollercoaster I had no idea what to think. I believe the reason it is so short because when something like that is happening to you, there really isn’t time to stop and think, you just have to take every day as it comes and hope you survive the day and nights to come. I definitely learnt a lot about how it must feel to go through such a rigorous course of treatment and to have a disease like that, although even a book can’t possibly put across how painful it actually is, but to be honest, reading the autobiography is the closest you could get. Such brilliant writing, detailed descriptions and really engages the reader for a broader understanding of everything Tom was experiencing.

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):


The Book Depository

Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

By bookmuffin

I like books and tea. MA Children's Literature student.

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