I finished this book a couple of days ago and really enjoyed reading it. Although Susan Lewis has written several books, this is the first of hers I have read and it definitely won’t be the last! This book was very thought provoking with brilliantly created characters that had me drawn in and wanting to know what happened right from the beginning.
The story is of Justine who has moved to America, to an area where her Grandmother used to live. It is clear that she is trying to start her life afresh with her little daughter Lula and that there is something about her past that she is hiding from. There’s an air of mystery- why is she still desperate to talk to her husband yet won’t? who are these other children she thinks about but won’t talk to anyone about and hushes Lula when she tries to bring them up in conversation?
As Justine settles into her new life and creates friendships she also looks into the life of her grandmother and questions why there seems to be a sense of mystery about her too- town members tend to say they know exactly who she was but don’t want to say any more. As Justine questions the generations before her own it also makes her think about her own parenting and the lives that she has influenced.
What was really special about this book was the whole family and relationship issues which ran throughout. There were so many interwoven- that of Justine and her mother, her mother and her grandmother, her own relationships with her children, her friendships and that of other people looking in on them. It made for very interesting reading and meant that I, as a reader, thought about how events affect all family members and how this can then be passed on through generations and that you can learn from it to do better yourself.
Another part of this book that I found really interesting was the fact that the other side of a story was told. Without giving away spoilers, it is often the case that books talk about victims’ families and how they move on after big events but we often forget what it must be like for the families of those who carry out the life changing events; how do those families get over it? How do they cope with the judgement and the emotions that they suddenly find themselves facing through no choice of their own? It certainly made me think about that side of things which I have never really given much thought to, definitely a fresh take on a story which made this book so insightful.
I really felt like i went on a journey with this book- that is very cliched I know, but throughout it you really get to know the character of Justine and what her life was like. As she relives the events of her life it just makes you get to know her more and more and you’re willing her to be able to move on and find happiness and it’s so moving to see how she changes throughout and how her relationship with new friends and old as well as her mother unfold.
There’s plenty going on within this book- the mystery of what Justine is hiding, the mystery around her grandmother, the awkward relationships, the questioning of parenting skills and the causes of behaviour… it’s all so deep and so many twists and turns yet it is written beautifully.
I really enjoyed reading it, I love it when characters are so well written like this one so I can’t wait to now read more from Susan Lewis. This book certainly helped to transport me into a different world to forget my own woes which is exactly what I love in a book. Five stars from me!