Before reading this, my only experience of Adele Parks’ work was reading her historical novels (which I enjoyed, FYI), so I was unsure what to expect. However, it arrived in a large red and sparkly jiffy bag, so I was already well-disposed towards it.
The novel focuses on a nightmare premise- what would you do if you found out that you’d taken the wrong baby home from the hospital? And, not only that, but on discovering this you learn that your daughter may have a potentially fatal gene? It is pretty much every parent’s nightmare and it’s one that is played expertly in this novel. I will admit straight up that at times, it was not an easy read (but then, sometimes the best fiction is that which challenges us and makes us think about uncomfortable topics.)
The protagonist, Alison, is not initially a likable character; she’s neurotic, clingy, obsessed with appearances and a bit of a pushy mum. Through flashbacks, we understand more about her, but it takes a while to warm to her. It’s easy to see why her own daughter feels able to keep secrets from her and why her biological daughter angrily rejects her. However, as the plot moved on- you start to suspect that the handsome father of the ‘other’ family is a bit dodgy-I began to understand why Alison is as she is. Eventually, she will be driven to behave in the most extreme way to save her daughter and preserve her family.
This is not a family melodrama, but an investigation into the ties that bind us as families and the lengths we will go to in order to preserve them.