What’s it all about?
What do you do when your family’s dream becomes a nightmare? Combining the skill of Jodi Picoult with the warmth of Anita Shreve, Charity Norman explores – with heart-thumping tension – a fresh start which goes very badly wrong.
In the quiet of a New Zealand winter’s night, a rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. He’s fallen from the upstairs veranda of an isolated farmhouse, and his condition is critical. At first, Finn’s fall looks like a horrible accident; after all, he’s prone to sleepwalking. Only his frantic mother, Martha McNamara, knows how it happened. And she isn’t telling. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
Tragedy isn’t what the McNamara family expected when they moved to New Zealand. For Martha, it was an escape. For her artist husband Kit, it was a dream. For their small twin boys, it was an adventure. For sixteen-year-old Sacha, it was the start of a nightmare.
They end up on the isolated east coast of the North Island, seemingly in the middle of a New Zealand tourism campaign. But their peaceful idyll is soon shattered as the choices Sacha makes lead the family down a path which threatens to destroy them all.
Martha finds herself facing a series of impossible decisions, each with devastating consequences for her family.
What did I think?:
This book was another good choice for the Richard and Judy Spring 2013 book club. Martha and her family have been having troubles – both financial and emotional. They decide to emigrate (or escape?) to New Zealand, hoping to make a fresh start and ease some of their burdens. We first meet Martha after they have been in New Zealand for about a year and just after one of her sons has taken a nasty fall, and it is touch or go whether he will survive. The story then alternates from the present time, where Martha is in the paediatric intensive care unit with her son, and then describes the events leading up to the horrific event. Although there is nothing unique in this set up, I enjoyed flitting between the two scenarios and felt it gave the story a bit of suspense and an extra thrill.
One of the things I most admired about this novel was the author’s ability to describe locations. New Zealand is described in such breath-taking terms, that I may actually have to emigrate now to see what all the fuss is about! The characters are also well-defined and I found myself caring deeply about what happened to them. My only criticism is that it felt a bit “samey” to other books in the genre, and there were nothing unique that I hadn’t encountered before. That’s not really a disadvantage as it’s a great, easy-to-read story that I think a lot of people will enjoy.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):