Reviewed by Sarah Brew
Today is the day that things are going to change for Rachel Bidewell.
She will walk through the doors of Clifton Avenue Care Home and start a new life.
Rachel is returning to work. And as she discovers, juggling a new job, three children and an ex husband can feel like drowning.
Someone needs to throw her a lifeline...
Philip doesn't seem like an obvious lifesaver. He has just lost the one person who ever cared for him and, even as an adult, he doesn't know how to live in the real world.
But might Philip and Rachel each have something the other needs?
Rachel’s husband has left her for a younger woman. With three children to care for, she needs to work. From the start, the reader empathises with Rachel and we warm to her even more as the story unfolds and we see what a loving caring person she is. In a fragile state emotionally, her job at Clifton Avenue Care Home is overwhelming her.
Help comes from an unlikely source when Rachel is assigned as keyworker to Philip, an adult with learning difficulties. Philip’s mother, who cared for him in a way that isolated him totally and kept him dependent on her, has died. It’s a moving look at working with people with disabilities, told with real insight and compassion. It helps us to appreciate that there is something good to be found even in hard circumstances. At the same time as caring for Philip, Rachel is struggling with the fall-out of the divorce and its effect on her family; we really get involved with this aspect of the story.
A compelling read and this is in a large part due to the way Rachel is portrayed – far from perfect, she struggles to cope with all life has thrown at her and makes mistakes along the way. Told in the first person, we share her despair, anger and frustration at her own life and the barriers to helping Philip imposed by others. Ultimately, as we see how she copes with all life throws at her and puts her energies into helping someone less fortunate, we share – and welcome - her positive approach. The potentially tricky subject matter is deftly handled with a light touch.
Honest and emotional, peopled with very believable characters and situations, I found this a very promising debut novel.
I'd like to thank Real Readers for sending me a copy of this book and Sarah for reviewing it for my blog.