As a back-to-school treat for My Book Corner readers, we’ve got an intriguing extract from Mark Lowery’s Charlie and Me to share with you. Isn’t it always great to read an extract from a book, to know whether or not it’ll grab you? Grab a cuppa, and enjoy. Love to hear what you think.
Over to Mark…
One thing everyone needs to know about Charlie: he is a miracle.
He was born well early – about fifteen weeks before he was meant to be. Mum and Dad never let me visit him when he was in hospital because I was only three, but I’ve seen a photo: a minuscule, scrawny red alien in a fish tank, with a woolly hat on and eyelids like ping-pong balls. There’s a tube sprouting out of his nose and wires attached to his chest and machines blinking all around him. Dad’s finger is in the corner of the shot and it’s almost as long as Charlie’s whole body.
They kept him in hospital for three months because he was so sick. A machine had to breathe for him because his lungs were a pair of useless wet sponges. His heart kept breaking down so he had to have four emergency operations on it. And, after all that, he caught a really serious infection from one of his breathing tubes. A couple of times the doctors told Mum and Dad to go in and say goodbye because this could be The Night.
It makes me feel sick when I think how close he came to . . . you know . . .
But, somehow, he fought and fought and stayed alive. The doctors thought it was so incredible that he even got in the newspapers. We’ve still got the clippings in a frame on the mantelpiece: ‘Meet Charlie the Miracle Baby’; ‘Fighting Fit Charlie Back from the Dead’; ‘Alive and Kicking’.
The day he finally came home is one of my earliest memories. I can picture Dad holding me on one knee with Charlie in the crook of his other arm. ‘Meet your baby brother, big guy,’ he said, dark rings round his eyes and his voice catching in his throat. ‘You’re gonna have to look after him.’
So I guess I always have: holding his hand to cross the road; cutting up his food and tying his laces for him because he’s so clumsy; making sure his bag’s packed in the morning because he always forgets what he needs biting the bruises out of his apples because he’s got a weird thing about them; teaching him to throw and catch even though he’s rubbish at it; sitting with him through all of his millions of appointments and check-ups at the hospital.