Getting Better – Michael Rosen

Published By: Ebury Press
Pages: 252
Released On: 02/02/2023

In our lives, terrible things may happen. Michael Rosen has grieved the loss of a child, lived with debilitating chronic illness, and faced death itself when seriously unwell in hospital. In spite of this he has survived, and has even learned to find joy in life in the aftermath of tragedy.

In Getting Better, he shares his story and the lessons he has learned along the way. Exploring the roles that trauma and grief have played in his own life, Michael investigates the road to recovery, asking how we can find it within ourselves to live well again after – or even during – the darkest times of our lives. Moving and insightful, Getting Better is an essential companion for anyone who has loved and lost, or struggled and survived.


Like many others, I grew up on Michael Rosen’s work, including probably his best known, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I hadn’t read him for a while when I picked up Many Different Kinds of Love in a supermarket in 2021, where he tells us of his experience of COVID-19, being in a coma, in intensive care, close to death, plus all the rehab that came after. It was such a powerfully sad but hopeful book. So I was glad to see he’d written a new one.

I did at first assume it would be a follow up from this book, documenting more about his recovery from COVID-19, and it is to a point, but it’s also about his life, the difficult things he’s had to go through and what lessons he has learned through them.

What I love about his work, is he has this natural magic to the words he uses. It doesn’t seem to matter if he’s writing children’s fiction, adult fiction or non-fiction, the words seamlessly jump off the page and into your heart.

As documented in this book, he’s been through a lot: a chronic illness, the loss of a child, and his own brush with death, and whilst that has had a huge effect on him, this book shows that, whilst it may not be easy, these things don’t have to define your life, and you can find the positives amongst them.

Comedian Cariad Lloyd said of this book that it’s “like having a cup of tea and a chat with Michael himself”, and I’d have to agree. There’s no ego here, no ulterior motive, and he’s not trying to prove anything. It’s just him talking about his own experience and how he might be able to help others, and its just warming, humorous, silly, natural, and above all, honest. Really honest. And we all need that.

We will all go through hardships in our lives, whether it’s a job loss, money worries, a bereavement, a relationship ending, an illness etc. And this book instils such hope that I think it would do the world some good if everyone had a copy.

You can dip in and out, reading the chapters in order or picking out what you want and flitting backwards and forwards. Or you can be like me and read it from cover to cover straight through. There’s no right or wrong way to read it, and no rules about what you can take away from it. This allows a sense of freedom in your reading which is rarely found.

The main thing I liked about it was that it shows the importance of words. You’ll appreciate that even more if, like me, you’re an obsessive of books and words and writing and stories. Words are vital. Not just for the necessary – asking for help – but equally important for the mind, writing how you feel, writing a poem, writing a love letter, writing a story. And I love how much attention he’s given to them. Yes, I know he’s a writer and so obviously words are his passion, but he has beautifully captured how important words and storytelling can be in physical and mental recovery.

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