A compelling, emotional knockout debut from a brilliant new Australian author.
An unforgettable novel that brings to life a new mother’s worst fears.
Tony is worried. His wife, Anna, isn’t coping with their newborn. Anna had wanted a child so badly and, when Jack was born, they were both so happy. They’d come home from the hospital a family. Was it really only six weeks ago?
But Anna hasn’t been herself since. One moment she’s crying, the next she seems almost too positive. It must be normal with a baby, Tony thought; she’s just adjusting. He had been busy at work. It would sort itself out. But now Anna and Jack are missing. And Tony realises that something is really wrong…
What happens to this family will break your heart and leave you breathless.
Something in the prologue of this book warned me that something terrible was about to be revealed. I recognised the room (I have been a social worker/youth worker/refuge worker in the past and knew where that room was, what it was.) My interest was stirred but I was hesitant to proceed, in fact I did procrastinate quite a bit before picking this book up again. I do not enjoy reading “lifelike” tragedies- I feel too much. And this book certainly made me feel.
My chest tightened as I read the first forty or so pages – the pages describing the time up to what was to be referred to as “the event”, the unspeakable act…I knew what was coming. I couldn’t breathe. I ask myself, is it my studies or work history or my own experience of childhood/motherhood that instilled this tension within me? Would a childless woman or a man be so affected by this script? I don’t know I can only read and interpret the world through my eyes, my experiences.
An emotional and tension packed introduction to a topic that no one mentions out loud. (I deliberately avoid “spoilers”) It is time the taboo was broken and maybe this book will be the catalyst that will drive this conversation into the open. It is a conversation mothers should have with their daughters, and daughters should have with their friends and partner. It is a subject the world should be talking about and thinking about and changing. Each one of us can help create this change.
Back to the book – emotional, VERY. A suspenseful start, a sad, sad truth then unfolds – the truth about the event itself and the truth how others respond to this situation. We see through the reactions of the other characters; the mum, mother in law, husband, friends etc how they responded, the responsibility they did not embrace. I hope I would react differently. It is a credit to the author that the characters evoke such strong reactions: I hated the mother in law, her smugness, her selfishness, her inability to show her feelings, her lack of charity. I wanted the husband to be berated- he was selfish, he did not respond the clues and hints that something was really not right and he did not intervene; he went to work. I was angry that society put so much pressure on women, especially young women – to be pretty, thin, perfect, caring, a housewife, a provider, a mother, a cleaner and unselfish. I felt so sorry for the Anna. I felt she had been let down by all those around her – and had been since a child. “Life is fine”, we have that throwaway line spoken everyday; listen. We all cope when everything is going well, it is not until we are tested that the fractures begin to show. I think this novel demonstrates the need for more honesty in life and relationships and the fact we – men and women have forgotten how to ask for help and maybe some of us have forgotten how to respond.
A great read – keep the tissues handy.