It’s not often that a book can disturb me to the point that I cannot sleep, but at one point I was reading this before bed and I had to put it down and make the husband come in and talk to me for awhile before I could sleep. Even then I had nightmares.
Sally Hepworth has taken an abusive relationship and made it a book. It wraps its arms around you and makes you feel special until all your friends are gone and the book is the only friend that really knows you or knows how to take care of you until suddenly you’re all alone, trapped, no way out. If you’ve ever been in a gaslighting relationship or a controlling relationship, one that didn’t end well or really messed you up, I would advise caution when deciding whether or not to read this book. Hepworth is a feelings-writing genius, and this is both good and bad. In my case, I had to read the book first thing in the morning and then not touch it again until the next day, doing lots of things I enjoyed in the meantime.
I will spoil you a bit…
…and let you know that there IS a happy ending. So if you feel like you might PTSD through something like this but you still want to read an amazing, terrifying, gripping story, you can rest easy knowing that all’s well that ends well in this case.
The story moves back and forth between Fern’s real time experiences and entries in Rose’s diary. Fern’s real experiences reflect a woman with sensory sensitivity issues who is smart and kind, but obviously a bit traumatized. Rose’s diary seems to hold the reasons behind this behavior. It depicts a childhood of homelessness, abuse – both from their mother (verbally) and their mother’s boyfriends (sexually) – and want. It also describes the central event in the story: Fern drowning the son of one of their mother’s boyfriends in a pond during a bonding camping trip. This is the secret that keeps Rose and Fern together, they take care of each other to make sure that something like that never happens again.
But then Fern meets a man at the library where she works and decides to get to know him to possibly get pregnant so that her sister, who is struggling to get pregnant, can have the child she longs for. She doesn’t plan to actually fall in love with him, but when she eventually does, she also becomes pregnant and everything past and present begins to unravel.
This book hurt to read but I am glad that I did read it. If you’ve been through a relationship like the one in this book you’ll recognize the signs right away. It was worth the discomfort it to see the good sister (LOL TITLE) get the happy ending that she deserved.
The more people that read a book like this and can recognize the signs of this kind of abuse the better. The best weapon any abuser has in these situations is making their victim feel completely and utterly alone. Be careful reading this one, but I do recommend that you give it a go. Enjoy!
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