Another book review by me today! I was recommended this book by my mother who said it was such a good book that she read it in a matter of days which is very unusual for her and so I just had to read it too. It is a brilliantly written book which taps into the lives of a family going through an extremely difficult time. I did find that it was a page turner and, like my mother, read it in a matter of days too.
=== The story ===
Ros’ daughter Stephanie had a relationship with her teacher when she was 15. Ros didn’t know anything about it and one day woke up to find her daughter missing and over the course of time it turned out she was with her teacher. A big search operation began and resulted in the teacher going to prison for years.
The story begins with a phone call informing Ros that Mr Temperley -the teacher- has finished his sentence and will be released in eleven days’ time.
Ros has spent the last 6 years of her life trying to come to terms with what happened to her daughter and understanding why the man did it. She had just began to live a life wihout it being full of worry and Stephanie seemed to be doing well at university but the knowledge of his impeding release soon made Ros’ world spiral out of control again.
=== Characters ===
The characters within this book are brilliant. I liked Ros, the mother as she was brilliantly crafted. She had lots of excessive worries and anxieties which I think are very true of many of us. The way that her worries were explained sounded extreme and laughable to others but really capture what it is like when you live with anxieties. For example, Ros feared that the tyres on the school bus set to take her daughter on a trip were quite bare and it was raining… so she imagined all kind of horrors and embarrassed her daughter by making a fuss about it and following the coach on it’s way to the trip. Things like this may seem really neurotic to some but I’m sure many people reading will be able to relate to these worries and how difficult it can be to switch off to the worries that go through our heads especially as parents.
The teacher, Nathan Temperley , was really unlikeable and that was great. He seemed very arrogant and full of himself and almost smug at times and this made me as a reader really dislike him which I think was obviously intended. It really made me then get behind Ros with her theories about him and the way she just couldn’t get over what he had done.
I liked Stephanie too although she was difficult to warm to at first. She seemed very mixed up by what had happened and struggled to form relationships and trust people. When she gradually began to open up to her mother it was really nice to see but you could also see that she was very fragile and likely to withdraw very quickly and I think writing a character like this and have her fragility come across so beautifully is the work of a very skilled author.
=== Opinion ===
This book is written in two time sets- the present day, counting down to when the teacher will be released and then also the time when Stephanie went missing. The two time frames are interwoven with it being more like Ros’ thoughts and memories revisiting what happened and this made me really get into Ros’ thoughts and imagine what she went through. It was very cleverly written like that and when it flipped back to the present day it was always because something had drawn Ros’ attention back. This made it clear that it was Ros’ version of events and showed how she was constantly thinking back to what had happened so even though it had been six years she was definitely not able to put it behind her and move on.
I found that when reading this book I began to feel quite on edge as Ros’ anxieties came forward, not just worrying about the big things like how her daughter would cope with the release of Temperley and what they would do if he tried to contact her, but the other worries too about whether she had locked all the doors and having to recheck things. It really drew me into her line of thinking and just how tiring that must be for her. It really was cleverly written to have this effect!
Whilst reading I also imagined how I would feel if it was me and that situation and really did get me thinking. You do always just assume that once a prison sentence has been granted that a family would rebuild itself and move on but this story really shows how it affects them forever.
What I really liked about this book is that it wasn’t about the relationship between Stephanie and the teacher, it was more about how the family tried to cope and rebuild afterwards and this is something that I think is often unmentioned so was a really interesting slant on this very difficult subject area.
I couldn’t guess the ending of this book at all. I kept wondering what would happen; was Stephanie really planning on moving on or would she try and rekindle her relationship? Was Temperley going to seek revenge? Would Ros be able to move forward with her own woes? So many questions which meant that this book was a page turner and I didn’t guess the ending once so that was a relief as I hate it when it’s obvious what’s going to happen!
This is Eva Holland’s debut novel and I think it’s a fantastic one, I really can’t wait to hear more from her if her future books are going to be anything like as good as this!
Currently available on Paperback for £12.78 on Amazon
Thank you to Eva Holland for sending me this book as a gift. All views and opinions are my own and may be found elsewhere.