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OUTSIDE, THE SKY IS BLUE is a beautifully drawn, heart-breaking yet also joyful memoir of growing up, of living with mental ill health and cancer, and of working out what it means to be in a family, what it means to lose a family – and what’s left when you’re the last one left.

When Christina Patterson’s brother Tom died very suddenly, she faced the harrowing task of clearing out his house. Tom had always been the one who held on to the family treasures and memories, but now Christina had to sift through box after box of letters, papers, photos and belongings, not just of Tom’s, but of their parents and their older sister, Caroline.

Those boxes, albums and papers tell the story of a young couple who decide, when their children are small, to swap a glamorous diplomatic life in Rome for a housing estate in Surrey. But their new suburban life, of trips to National Trust houses, fizzy drinks over TV costume drama and walks at Wisley Gardens, is increasingly disrupted by Caroline’s, erratic behaviour. As she is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Tom seeks solace in sport and Christina in a youth club where she hopes to meet boys, but finds God.

‘Patterson is a passionate, funny woman who refuses simply to struggle on. She believes in living. And throwing parties. And friendship’ Sunday Times

Reviews

Patterson is a passionate, funny woman who refuses simply to struggle on. She believes in living. And throwing parties. And friendship
Sunday Times
Patterson invests her case histories with such intelligent passion and cracking candour that you feel as if you are listening to your cleverest, funniest and, above all, kindest friend
Mail on Sunday
A beautifully written and uplifting memoir about love and loss - and finding the resolve to carry on
The Times
She writes beautifully - crisp, yet emotional and page-turning. For me, it is something about her clarity and brutal honesty in describing both heartbreak and heart bursting life and love. In the end it is only the love that matters. Her memoir will give hope to those that are suffering and cannot see the light
Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass
This is a joyful book. Despite the sorrows, there is a determined joy to this tale, a pattern of finding the good despite the bad, of turning to face the sun so the shadows fall behind. It's a wonderful, heart-wrenching, compelling read
Dr Kathryn Mannix, author of With the End in Mind
This is a profound and beautiful memoir. Anyone who reads it will go on an extraordinary journey - you will learn about a remarkable individual, and also about our shared humanity
Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections
All families have stories of mental health struggles but Christina and her family have had more than their fair share. She tells their story with candour and compassion. It makes for an intense and moving read. Having had a brother who had schizophrenia all his adult life I was especially struck by her portrayal of her sister Caroline. There is a lot of death and suffering in this book yet precisely because Christina is so candid and compassionate there is hope within it too. I am sure this will be a welcome addition to the books helping to break down stigma and taboo about mental illness
Alastair Campbell, author of Living Better
Devastating, funny, wise, intimate and beautifully written. It's filled with empathy and light. This is a handbook for loving and living fully. The writing shines, celebrating life without ever shying away from the sharpness of grief and pain. It's truly life affirming, strengthening and hope filled. This book has never been more needed, it's essential reading for us all right now
Daisy Buchanan, author of Insatiable