Reviewed by Louise Wykes
A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.
On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she's leaving, he doesn't come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she's befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor's foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband's secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.
After devouring and adoring Louise’s debut novel, How To be Brave, I was beyond excited to start reading her second book and I can safely say I was not disappointed in the slightest. This book contains the same beauty, emotional depth and gripping pace as her first book.
Bernadette is a woman who has decided she can live a lie no longer and is planning to leave her husband, Richard, that evening. However, Richard is uncharacteristically late and then she receives a phone call to say that Conor, a boy in foster care whom she has befriended has gone missing along with his Life Book which is a record of everything that has happened to Conor since he was placed into care when he was a baby.
The novel reads as a thriller has Bernadette faces a hunt to find the missing boy to whom she has become extremely attached to in the past five years and as the novel progresses it becomes increasingly clear that Bernadette’s past, present and future are more linked to Conor’s fate than she ever realised. The pace of the story is fast and intense as it the narrative contains thoughts of Bernadette and Conor and also extracts from Conor’s life book which reveals the sad and nomadic life that Conor has had to deal with whilst still only being ten years old.
Louise Beech reminds me of two of my favourite writers, Joanne Harris and Tracy Chevalier. They all write such completely different books covering disparate topics but what unites them is the fantastic use of description, imagery and emotion that makes each book resonate with the reader on an intellectual and emotional level.
Like Louise’s first book, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you wish to be moved deeply and taken on a gripping and beautiful exploration of love, loss and the power of emotional connection then I can suggest nothing better than reading this powerful and beautiful story. I simply adored it. When is the next one out?!