Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
|Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: What do you do when your mother dies of Huntington's Disease and you find out that she wasn't your mother at all? And that there is a person - a sister? - out there who may carry the gene for this terrible disease?
|Date: February 2012
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster
|External links: Author's website
Rosie's beloved mother Trudie has just died of Huntington's disease and now Rosie has a terrible decision to make: should she get tested and discover whether or not she has inherited the mutated gene that causes this fatal illness? But just as she decides that truth and knowledge is better than fear, Rosie discovers that Trudie wasn't her biological mother. She and a dying baby were swapped at birth. So Rosie sets out to the States to find her real mother, accompanied by Andy, an ex-boyfriend with whom she hopes to rekindle a love that never quite died. They find more than Rosie could ever have expected, and she is faced with an even more agonising choice: live a lie, or tell the truth and destroy lives just as hers has been destroyed...
Lies and omissions are the central theme of this novel. It opens with an untruth - Rosie is not who she thought she was. And even though this discovery is actually liberating - Rosie won't get Huntington's and she can plan a life without fear - it's also devastating and creates a deep and desperate need to find some context in a connection with her biological parents. But Rosie isn't thinking clearly and she doesn't want to hurt anyone in the way that she has been hurt, so what does she do? She lies and omits, of course! She doesn't tell Andy her intentions, setting up a dangerous conflict in her most treasured relationship. And when she eventually finds her counterpart, Holly, what does Holly do? Yep, you've guessed it, she lies and omits (no spoilers at Bookbag, so I won't say how).
You might think all this fibbing is unrealistic, a means of setting up conflict in a piece of fiction. But if you don't lie and omit too, if you're brutally honest with yourself, you'll own up. It's what we all do. We don't say what we should say when we should say it. We do this for all sorts of reasons: fear, insecurity, kindness, immaturity. But we still do it. So for me, Someone Else's Life is very truthful.
I loved the characters. Rosie and Holly are both intemperate and impulsive. They are at heart kind souls, but they make plenty of mistakes and the turmoil in their lives takes away their trust in others just when they need it most. Fortunately, they are largely supported by other kind - more patient - souls in Andy, Rosie's boyfriend, and Jack, Holly's father/stepfather. The plot itself is utterly gripping and I read for too long, too quickly, because I so wanted to know how it all turned out. Dale also does a great job in putting Huntington's disease front and centre, with a searingly honest look at the way it takes away lives and choices and the way in which its symptoms - mood swings, dementia, co-ordination - act together to cause a kind of social exile for both sufferers and their families.
You can read more book reviews or buy Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale at Amazon.com.
Katie Dale was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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