Other Parents by Sarah Stovell

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Other Parents by Sarah Stovell

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An insightful, often funny look at school-gate politics, the machinations of the PTA and the difficulties of living in a small town where everyone knows your business before you do. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400/11h17m Date: January 2022
Publisher: HQ
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0008441616

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Jo Fairburn knew that she was under intense pressure as the new head of West Burntridge First School: if she didn't live up to her retired predecessor there could well be a house price slump in that part of the town. The school had an active Parent Teacher Association and the funds which they raised were a considerable benefit to the school. There was one difficulty, though - they were devastatingly shockable, with two members, in particular, causing problems for the head. Laura Spence and Kate Monroe objected to Jo's restrictions on the toys children could bring in on Toy Day but that was just a warm-up act for their real gripe: LGBTQ education.

It's in the National Curriculum - so Jo didn't have any choice and nor could a dissenting parent withdraw their child from the classes - and besides, the content was age-appropriate. It was hardly gay porn that was on offer but Laura and Kate were not to be mollified. They wanted teaching which made it clear to children that heterosexual marriage was the only right and proper union. Compromise was not possible and a petition was started. There wasn't overwhelming support but the pro-LGBTQ-teaching faction had a natural figurehead who just happened to be the centre of local gossip at the time.

Dr Rachel Saunders, author, television personality and mother of three children had recently separated from her husband, Will Kernick and moved Erin, her journalist girlfriend, into the family home and her bed. Her youngest child, six-year-old Tess, was at West Burntridge Middle School. Her oldest child, seventeen-year-old Reuben, wasn't unduly worried about the situation at home - he was more concerned about getting into Cambridge - but his sister, fifteen-year-old Maia, was vehemently opposed to the relationship and she's going to show her opposition in the only way that she can: sex.

I loved this book and raced through it in a couple of sessions, feeling rather resentful that there had to be a gap in between. Sleep is much overrated, you know. I was blown away by the character of Rachel Saunders. She can't not say what she's thinking and because she's bright and articulate it's going to come out in a form that people will remember as Erin knows only too well. That's the downside of life with the brilliant, shameless Rachel Saunders. The upside is the woman who gives generously to the school, without being found out, to support those children who might miss out on school trips or music lessons. The irony that the children of those most opposed to her life decisions are directly benefitting from her generosity is not lost on her.

I liked too that the book is not judgemental. There are things that people will do to feed their children, to give them a better life than they're having, to make their own lives more bearable that are not necessarily socially acceptable or even legal. The tone of the book is not condemnation but a recognition that help is needed. There's only one real baddy in the book and what happens there neatly demonstrates the difference between wrong and evil.

In places, it's hilariously funny. From beginning to end it's insightful and the plotting is wonderfully sharp. I loved the book and I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.

We've also loved Sarah Stovell's Exquisite and The Night Flower but this is an author who's getting better all the time so it will be worth watching out for what she writes next. I certainly will be.

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Buy Other Parents by Sarah Stovell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Other Parents by Sarah Stovell at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

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Buy Other Parents by Sarah Stovell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Other Parents by Sarah Stovell at Amazon.com.

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