Book Reviews

My Life as a Bench by Jaq Hazell

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much, Jaq!

I started reading this book 4 days back, while on the train to work. I have a 50 minute long journey to look forward to everyday and I get bored very easily. I usually read or listen to podcasts but the boredom always catches up on most days. When I was reading this book, however, I didn’t want to put my Kindle away even when the train reached my destination. This is a book that will definitely do well for itself when it releases–it’s brilliant!

Goodreads synopsis:

34107779 ‘There are so many benches lining the riverside, each and every one tragic in its own way.’

Ren Miller has died aged seventeen and yet her consciousness lives on, inhabiting her memorial bench by the River Thames in London.

Ren longs to be reunited with her boyfriend Gabe, but soon discovers why he has failed to visit. Devastated, she must learn to break through and talk to the living so she can reveal the truth about her tragic end.

Unique, haunting, and compelling, this is a story about love, friendship, a passion for music and what, if anything, remains after we’ve gone.


Ren Miller, our protagonist, died a tragic death at seventeen. Her consciousness remains attached to a bench by River Thames. She makes friends with the adjacent bench, inhabited by the consciousness of an old man (Lionel). Throughout the book, we see Ren reminiscing about the months leading to her death and trying to contact the people who come to visit, with occasional conversations with Lionel (which I loved!). Let’s take a moment to appreciate this AMAZING premise, shall we? 🙂

I wouldn’t say I was able to connect with Ren all that much but I was able to appreciate the beauty of this story and that made me keep going. I wanted to know what happened to Ren. How did she die? Why won’t her boyfriend visit this shrine to her? Ren-the-bench spends each day talking to Lionel and the nights going through an endless loop of memories from the time she first came to London.

Through her memories, we see how she forms relationships with the people around her. She makes a lot of friends in London, with whom she hangs out often, too. At the same time, she also has a good relationship with her family. As for her relationship with Gabe, I felt that it was a little hurried. It would’ve been better if we’d seen more of their relationship, of it involving deeper conversations. But, this is also YA and we’re talking about seventeen-year-olds so I’m willing to overlook that.

The writing is perfect, the story is fast paced, and everything flows smoothly to tie up with a beautiful finish. This is a light-hearted read that will also make you tear up just a smidge on occasions. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes their YA contemporary with a touch of suspense.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Let me take just a moment to scream because it’s been so long since I read a great ARC! Alright, so how was the review? Would you read this book? Don’t you think the premise is bomb? 😀 Let me know in the comments!

~ Shruti

Find me on Goodreads.

6 thoughts on “My Life as a Bench by Jaq Hazell

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