If you have never heard of Hayley Okines, where have you been? I first heard about Hayley a few years ago when she was featured on Channel 5’s Extraordinary People and I fell in love with her immediately. Hayley was born with a rare genetic condition known as progeria which means that she ages eight times faster than the average person. At 13 years old she has the body of a 105 year old but she doesn’t let this stop her. Hayley is such a happy young girl who together with her Mum have written a book reflecting on their lives together as she reaches the age of average life expectancy for a child with progeria. There is no doubt this book is a tear jerker and it will tug on your heart strings like so other but it’s also a book which will make you smile and make you laugh as Hayley has a great sense of humour and shows no self-pity whatsoever.
When Hayley’s Mum Kerry was given the news of her daughter’s condition and the prognosis she made plans to end both of their lives as she couldn’t see a way forward. Thankfully she decided against this and has made sure that Hayley has had as normal a life as possible and has raised awareness of this condition which affects four children in the UK and 74 worldwide.
One piece of the book which stuck in my mind was where Hayley reflects on how she wished she could have caught nits because at least that would mean that she had hair! It’s hard to believe that something which most families dread could be something which another person would wish for.
Old Before My Time follows Hayley on her journey as she travels around the world meeting her pop heroes Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud and Justin Bieber.
If you only read one book this year, make it Old Before My Time – it will make you realise that life is for living!
Old Before My Time: My Life With Progeria by Hayley and Kerry Okines Published by Accent Press Ltd, price £9.99. ISBN: 9781908192554
DISCLAIMER: I was sent Old Before My Time for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own and may not be copied without my permission.