I was recommended this book by a friend. I always like to read books on recommendations and I’m glad I read this one because I have really enjoyed it. Inbetween working and parenting duties I have been stealing the odd half an hour with my Kindle to read this and have loved doing so!
=== The story ===
The story is about 3 generations of a family. Jacks is the mother of Martha and the daughter of Ida. As a teenager, Jacks fell in love with Sven from her class. Sven was different to all the other boys in her year because he wasn’t just interested in football, he wanted to travel and see the world, he wanted to make something of himself. But then Jacks fell pregnant and it was at the same time that Sven was leaving for America with his family and Jacks never got to tell him. Pete, a ‘good boy’ from a ‘good family’ – according to Ida- was also having a rough time after having lost his ability to play football due to an injury. The two soon found themselves confiding in each other and despite it never having been her dream, Jacks found herself marrying Pete with him bringing up her baby, Martha, as his.
In the present day, Jacks has high hopes for Martha. She is 18 and has applied for university. Jacks imagines Martha going to university and becoming a lawyer. She has always known that Martha is very clever and she can’t wait for her daughter to be able to live out all the dreams that she never was able to. Jacks’ current life is a stressful one. She spends her days running up and down the stairs to her mother who is suffering from dementia. She has to care for her all the time whilst still ferrying her two children around who always need her to iron their shirts, find them impossible items for school projects at the last minute and be there for them. Her life is really nothing special, her house is too crowded, their funds are short and she dreams about Sven and what could have been.
But then when Sven does end up back on the scene, things are not quite the same as she had hoped. Her dream of him having been able to provide her with everything she had ever wanted comes crashing down and she questions what is really important in life. She is frustrated with having her days span out in the same way of her just caring for others and having no time for herself and then when her dreams of Martha going to university seem to be impossible too she really wonders how she can carry on.
=== Characters ===
I really liked the characters within this book. They were well crafted which made me able to relate to them. I particularly could relate to Jacks. I may not have a teenage daughter, a cramped house and a mother I have to care for… but a lot of her thoughts easily reflect many peoples’ situations… the day in day out monotony of ferrying children back and forth, the wondering what life could have been like if a different decision had been made years earlier and wondering what more you can do with your life. It is certainly something I’m sure many readers would then relate to their own lives. I really felt like she was a very ‘real’ character.
Pete, Jacks’ husband, was a brilliantly formed character too. He was so consistent and stable, really supportive. At first I thought he was a bit too ‘nice’ always picking up the pieces but then when he got firm about the Sven situation I really warmed to him as he let his fears be known.
The characters within this book are extremely well formed. They weren’t anything dramatic, no huge character flaws or anything but that was what was so special about them- they were very real.
=== Opinion ===
The book is written in the present day and also in the past with chapters going back and forth to each and this enabled me to really get a feel for the story. It wasn’t confusing, it just really enhanced it as we got to know the backgrounds of the characters and helped me see why Jacks was reacting in such a way to various events in the present.
I found the book very easy to read, nothing too complex or anything to get your head around so it was perfect to read after a busy day of ferrying children around myself!
I like that this book isn’t just about a middle aged woman having some kind of midlife crisis and ending up having an affair with an old flame. I liked how it was more about appreciating what you have, that money doesn’t have to be the most important thing.
I give this book 5 stars and recommend it!