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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Family Friday: Review of Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale

Families, secrets and heartbreak for Family Friday. This emotional read piles on the pressure with one unexpected twist after another.

Author: Katie Dale
Title: Someone Else's Life
Genre: Contemporary realism (YA)
Series: no
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: Feb 2 2012
Source: Kindly provided for review by the author

Find it at Amazon UK or Goodreads 

The blurb says:
When seventeen-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty-per-cent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when she tells her mum’s best friend, ‘Aunt Sarah’ that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie was not her biological mother after all... 

Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, hitching along on her ex-boyfriend’s GAP year to follow her to Los Angeles. But all does not go to plan, and as Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply-buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonising decision of her own - one which will be the most heart-breaking and far-reaching of all...

My verdict: a real rollercoaster ride. Recommended for fans of emotional realism.
This novel could well make you cry - and not just once. I found myself so involved with Rosie's world and her incredible journey that I was, at times, wiping away tears to continue reading. You should know that this is really not typical for me. I tend not to choose 'weepies' and both resent and don't respond to emotional manipulation (this was one of my big problems with The Kite Runner). In this novel, however, emotions are effectively handled. Even though the problems piling up on Rosie sometimes had me gasping in amazement, I felt that Dale never went far enough to break the spell of suspended disbelief.

The narration in this novel is first-person, switching between Rosie and another voice (it isn't confirmed who this is initially and I'm not doing spoilers!) It is easy to engage with Rosie's voice and to sympathise with her, although she is a sufficiently realistic teen under pressure that at times I was exasperated with her behaviour, particularly in the way she treats Andy, her ex-boyfriend. Given the complex and intense situations that Rosie is in, however, it's also easy to forgive her and give her a chance to redeem herself.

The novel deals well with Huntington's, which I didn't really know much about before. I'm sure it will be an effective way of raising awareness (as well as funds - a portion of the proceeds are being donated). It will achieve this because it is an entertaining story in its own right, and not just a vehicle for teaching about Huntington's.

Overall, I found this a highly enjoyable read. It's an impressive debut - Katie Dale is definitely one to watch. Celebrating the release of Someone Else's Life, she's on a blog tour at the moment (see the banner to the right) and will be visiting the Hearthfire on Feb 15th with a 'Words on Wednesday' post for us.

1 comment:

  1. Not usually my kind of book, but this sound like a great read. One to look out for, I think. :)


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