Then Polly meets Ben.
Ben is guardian of his niece, Emily. They become close, with Polly teaching Ben how to plait Emily's hair, and Ben playing football with Louis. Their friendship is unexpected. Polly’s never been happier.
But when Louis's dad reappears in their life, all Polly’s mistakes come back to haunt her and her resolve weakens when he swears he has changed.
Will she give herself a second chance to love?
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I owe Alice Peterson and her publishers Quercus a massive apology for the lateness of this review for One Step Closer. I thought I'd already written the review but whilst I was sorting out my TBR and outstanding reviews to be written I saw to my horror that this book had not been crossed off as a review written.
One Step Closer to You revolves around the lives of young single parents Polly and Ben whose paths cross when their son and niece become friends at school. Polly has been raising her son Louis on her own since he was a baby, without any real support apart from her brother Hugo who is blind, whereas Ben is still finding his feet in how to be a parent as he had to become guardian overnight to Emily, following the death of his sister, and it's clear that he needs all the help he can get. Through play dates with the children they become good friends who are there to support each other.
It's not clear at first what the situation is with Polly's family or Matthew, her ex, but over time snippets are revealed that give readers an insight as to what she's had to deal with in the past. She has clearly overcome the odds and has proved to everyone and herself that she has made something of her life and is doing a great job raising Louis.
I loved the way that the four of them almost became their own 'family' unit with Polly teaching Ben how to plait Emily's hair, my heart might have melted a little bit reading that, and Ben taking on the male role and playing football with Louis. But life is starting to get a little more complicated for Polly after Louis starts asking why he doesn't have a dad, even though Ben is a good surrogate, and didn't want their relationship to be torn apart when Matthew made his reappearance wanting to play a more active part in Louis' life...
Alice has such a way of writing stories that draw you in to the heart of them and make you fall in love with the characters and that's definitely true in the case of Polly and Ben. I was routing for them all the way and wanting them to see through what was going on and come out stronger the other side.
Another stunning novel from Alice that deals with so many difficult topics such as family secrets, alcoholism, domestic violence, with such sensitivity. Highly recommended.