Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

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Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

Buy Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A delicate, subtle look at family dysfunction and addiction. Some distressing events to read about but ultimately a story of hope and redemption.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: January 2021
Publisher: Not That London
External links: Author's website

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Who can forgive a mother who poisons her eight-year-old son? Even if it was an accident.

Tasha's mother was dying of cancer. Her job as a nurse was demanding. And her relationship with her husband wasn't at its best. But Tasha thought she was coping. She wasn't. And her growing dependence on painkillers turned into disaster, when her young son Jake got into her stash, and almost died.  Weekend Pass covers Tasha's first weekend visit home from her rehabilitation facility. Her husband, Baker, has understandably banned her from coming home and a court order dictates that she can only see Jake during a supervised visit at a family centre. Will she cope outside in the world again? Can she ever repair her relationship with her son?

Told from four points of view - Tasha's, her father's, her aunt's, her husband's - in short sharp chapters, this deeply humane novel unpicks a web of secrets and family dysfunction, all standing in the way of redemption: for everyone, not just Tasha. It covers addiction, infidelity, parenting, sibling rivalry and much more along the way. It's a truly absorbing read as you pick your way through the thoughts and emotions of each of the characters and the past's effect on the present is gradually revealed.

I felt for Tasha. Her husband can't forgive her for what she did but her real pain lies in her inability to forgive herself. The well-meaning interventions of her father and aunt can't help her do this, particularly since they have sins of their own to answer for and reflect upon. Nobody comes out of this book as any kind of shining light but its strength is that it shows us that nobody is really the villain either. There is no cardboard cut-out baddie to blame. Tasha, Baker, Milt, Charlotte - they're all human; a mix of all their thoughts and deeds, whether virtuous or sinning.

Can we atone for the worst of our mistakes? Of course we can. Can we regain the trust others have lost in us? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. But there is always honour and humanity in the effort. 

Weekend Pass packs a lot into fewer than two hundred pages. The dialogue never stutters. The writing is tight and clean and elegant with hidden depths that give pause for reflection and thought. It covers important, difficult themes in a compassionate, humanist way. It was an absolute pleasure to read.


You might also enjoy The Eyrie by Stevie Davies, which is also about the effect of the past upon the present. We also love After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell, told in a series of flashbacks.

Booklists.jpg Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh is in the Top Ten Self-Published Books 2020.

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Buy Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh at Amazon.com.


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