Tag Archives: #family

BOOK REVIEW – The Vanished Child by M.J. Lee

The Vanished ChildJayne Sinclair is a genealogical investigator. She basically traces lost relatives. However, she herself seems somewhat lost. Her husband has left her, and she’s drifting about feeling quite sorry for herself. She is not the strongest protagonist.

Her latest case is not helping matters much. Her elderly father’s new wife, Vera, reveals that her own mother, on her deathbed, mentioned a son that neither Vera nor her brother had any knowledge of. She’s desperate for Jayne to discover if there really is a long-lost brother out there, despite her existing brother insisting that these were just the ramblings of a dying woman.

The story alternates between present day (well, starting in June 2017) and the 1950’s, with the present day storyline being based wholly around Jayne and her attempts to discover whether this other brother of Vera’s actually existed, and who he might have been. I found the writing repetitive and somewhat clumsy. It seemed to be aimed at a much younger audience.

However the 1950’s storyline was extremely absorbing, although terribly heart-wrenching and at times downright disturbing! The history of the child migrants is not generally a well-known one and Lee has researched this well. The treatment of these children, some who were truly just infants, was utterly deplorable and beggars belief at times! The Church and its role in the entire saga has a lot to answer for, although at the time, those involved honestly believed they were doing what was best.

I didn’t enjoy this book, or the writing, and I’m giving it 3 stars mainly for the subject matter. But one other aspect that I really liked was Jayne’s dad, Robert and his wife Vera: this older couple who had found love at an advanced age and had married and the way that Lee portrayed them and their relationship was absolutely delightful and I loved that!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

BLOG TOUR – WE OWN THE SKY by LUKE ALLNUTT

We Own the SkyI’m so thrilled and honoured to be here on the blog tour for this truly wonderful book! I believe this is going to be one of the bestsellers of the year and is going to be spoken about for a long time to come.

Before the story even begins, it’s prefaced by an introduction from the author explaining that this was meant to be the legacy that he was leaving behind when he was convinced he was not going to win his battle with cancer.

I read this, and immediately sat up and thought what an open and honest declaration Luke Allnutt is making to his readers just as they’re about to delve into his book: “I was at my lowest point. I thought I was going to die. I wanted to leave something behind … I offer you this.” (That’s my basic summary of what I assume he was thinking – I’d probably make a crap psychologist!) Bearing this in mind, I figured he wasn’t going to spare us anything and that what followed was going to be pure, raw emotion. So I leapt on in. I was not wrong! I couldn’t stop reading – and I was on holiday at the time … in London … spending a lot of time on trains. This isn’t a good book to read in public, on a train with a lot of people in close proximity who can hear and see you blubbering!!

Rob, Anna and Jack, their boisterous little boy are a happy family until the day their world is shattered by a devastating illness. Allnutt draws the reader into their pain and heartbreak in such a way that we feel every single bit of their torment. We witness the initial shock that pulls Rob and Anna together, but then almost immediately, due to their differing attitudes and points of reference, they’re ripped apart by how they feel they need to approach Jack’s diagnosis and treatment. Anna’s methodical tendencies have always been the polar opposite to Rob’s more casual approach to life. As the situation worsens, and Anna falls back on the religious, rule-following ways of her upbringing, Rob becomes frustrated at this unexpected reversal into what he sees as habits from her youth, and becomes more willing to seek out whatever means possible that might help his beloved child, no matter the cost or the risk.

What lengths would you go to for your loved ones? Which loved ones … the one who is unwell or your other family members? This will make you ask questions you’ve never thought of before; questions you didn’t ever want to consider … do you have the answers?

This is a very special book for many reasons. It’s told from a dad’s perspective – not something you’ll find often. Although it’s undoubtedly heartbreaking, it is so beautifully, delicately written that it has an almost other-worldy feel to it. The way in which Rob manages to connect with Jack is so utterly breathtaking that it will inspire you long after you’ve finished reading.

This is a big fat, glittery 5- star-read!! It will stay with you for a long, long time … long after you’ve thrown all those soggy tissues away!

PS: I did find myself wondering why the author chose to write about a child becoming ill – every parent’s worst nightmare – when he himself had been through cancer. It weighed on my mind a lot … why would you want to write about a sick child?! But when I thought about it (and again, I’m making my own assumptions here), I felt that maybe if he’d made his protagonist an adult, particularly a man, it might feel more autobiographical, something he was not able to do. While I’m sure he drew on much of what he experienced, I am sure his own journey is just that: his own private journey.

Follow the blog tour until 15 February and see what others have to say about this gem of a book. It’s available for purchase on 8 February.

Blog tour FINALv3

Thank you so much to Tracy Fenton and her fabulous group THE Book Club on Facebook. You created an online space for those who love reading, but you didn’t stop there, you went on and took it about a hundred steps further than that and now readers and authors have the opportunity to interact daily not only online, but also at the various events that group admins and members co-ordinate on a regular basis. This is a community like no other. Your hard word is appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW – The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

the-food-of-loveYou think you know your children better than anyone else, don’t you? You’d say you were close, wouldn’t you? That they’re willing to share everything with you, and come to you when they have a problem? That’s what Freya and Lockie think about their teenage daughters Charlotte and Lexi.

And then one day Freya gets a phone call from school and is asked to come in for a ‘meeting’ about Lexi. She’s not overly concerned. Lexi’s dyslexic and has had learning difficulties in the past but she’s overcome all of that and seems to be on a steady footing with her schoolwork now. But this isn’t about her schoolwork. There’s a concern that Lexi might be having an issue with food. Freya finds this notion utterly preposterous! She’s a food writer after all, someone who’s always been open about food, especially all things relating to healthy eating. And anyway, she has such a good relationship with her girls. She’d notice immediately if something wasn’t right.

But something is very, very wrong. 15-year-old Lexi has an extremely serious condition. She is obsessed with the concept of taking food into her body. She literally cannot even tolerate the thought and will do anything she can to avoid it. And it’s getting worse. So far she hasn’t been discovered, but how long until she is?

Of course, Lexi’s secret is eventually exposed and her family are horrified at the lengths she’ll go to to avoid eating. And so follows a terrifying journey into an unknown world of doctors, treatments, psychiatric hospitals, forced feeding, tough-love, online chatrooms, support groups … all associated with the dreaded word that Freya can barely bring herself to think, let alone say: Anorexia.

Along the way, they learn that Anorexia in fact, has less to do with food, and more to do with the psychological association that the person has with its intake. It’s about the power one can exert over oneself. She and Lockie increasingly clash over the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to handle Lexi’s condition, Freya wanting to take the typical mother’s approach of nurturing and caring, not being able to bear seeing her child suffer, while Lockie prefers the stronger, tougher stance: don’t let her get away with it, if we’re stricter with her and show her who’s boss then it will all be fine! He feels that by being too soft on Lexi, she’s getting away with something that she shouldn’t be allowed to. But obviously it is far more complex than this.

This is a heartbreaking, often truly painful read of a family’s struggle with a devastating, destructive condition. Amanda Prowse is, as always, current and relevant. She writes honestly and with complete sincerity, making her characters so utterly believable and likeable that you feel like you just want to be there for them!

Highly recommended reading, especially for anyone who is a parent to teens (not just girls!), or who is involved in educating or mentoring teens. Yes, I’m well aware that this is a fictionalised account and professionals would obviously need to read up more academically based research on the topic. For those who are looking for a basic understanding of the subject, this is an excellent place to start.

4 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews