Somewhere Inside of Happy
by Anna McPartlin
Publisher: Black Swan
Publishing Date: 7th April 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 432
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)
‚And just like that my boy was gone.’
Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie.
Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion.
Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.
From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes this heart-breaking yet uproariously uplifting new novel about love, resilience and the life-changing power of hope.
The first book that I read in 2015 was Anna McPartlin’s „The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes” and believe me, I have never forgotten this novel. It made such an impression on me that I couldn’t stop talking about it every time when I had a chance, and I kept my eyes peeled for Anna’s next release. When my review copy of „Somewhere Inside of Happy” arrived I couldn’t stop admiring this book’s cover – it’s in a rather unusual yellow colour, but it’s beautiful and so very optimistic. And I didn’t wait long to start reading, and when I started, I couldn’t put it down.
I know I’ve read only two books by this author, but one thing grows clear for me, that Anna McPartlin is an absolute expert of writing books about often difficult, taboo, emotional subjects in a way that always leave you feel warm deep in your heart and optimistic.
The story is told from multiple points of view, and each of the voices is incredibly distinctive and clear. So we have Maisie there, and her story is bitter – sweet, fun and sad; Jeremy, so much more mature than his age, the responsible and loving Jeremy; his sister Valerie, larger than life and with big mouth, but it’s all only a mask, as she’s fighting her own demons and she only wants to hide her insecurities; Bridie, Maisie’s mother, and it was incredible how well the author captured her characters and how well she pictured a person suffering from dementia, how much emotion and understanding she was able to put into Birdie’s words; Fred, the police officer who knows the family and its history and who so often picked Maisie up after she fell; we also have Jeremy’s friends and Maisie’s ex – husband, and Anna McPartlin did it again – she wrote incredible, down – to – earth characters that made you root for them immediately from the beginning. Maisie Bean Brennan deserves standing ovation. I loved her from the opening scenes and I’ve never stopped loving her. She was strong and fierce, and vulnerable, and so normal, and I am not going to forget her. She had such a hard life and yet she finally found the courage to leave the abusive husband, and when she thinks her life is maybe not perfect but OK enough, the next tragedy strikes, and I don’t know how I would cope in this situation and if I would be able to forgive, just like Maisie did. We also get a chance to experience about Maisie’s very turbulent past, especially the times when she was married – reading it I have unconsciously clenching my fists and my heart went to Maisie. She’s a fighter, this one. A real fighter.
As we read, it turns out that almost all of the characters have some issues that overwhelm them, that have secrets but they try not to show anything, they want to be strong and keep going.
However, I have one small, teeny tiny „but”. We know from the beginning that something very sad and emotional is going to happen, and we also know what it is: that Jeremy dies – this is NOT a spoiler! There came a moment that I started to feel desperate for it to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I DIDN’T WANT it to happen, my whole being was begging NO, if I could I would change it, but on the other hand this whole situation felt a little too dragged on. I also started to hope that, somehow, it isn’t going to happen, the whole story in between has kind of watered down my alertness. But even with this feeling, the pace was brilliant and the story has broken my heart.
The story also surprised me with its message, to be honest, but not in a bad way. Maybe I didn’t realise that it’s still such a taboo subject, still so controversial but Anna’s take on the issue was truly heart – breaking and incredibly sad. It also gives us a very clear insight into what life in a small town in Ireland in the mid 90s could look like for some people.
Also, Anna McPartlin has managed to put into words the absolute feeling of despair and disorientation the family felt after Jeremy went missing, from all the family member – they all missed him so much and all in their own way, and she wonderfully, brilliantly described all these feelings. They were palpable through the pages and they broke my heart more than once, but also, in a very clever way, the author managed to divert our attention from these sad events using this fantastic, inimitable, down – to – earth Irish humour – I loved it!
There were many moments in the book that made me laugh and cry, but I must mention one of them, that especially stuck in my memory. It was so moving in my opinion – when Rave used the words „somewhere inside of happy” about Jeremy. It was a short scene, a moment, but I am never going to forget it.
”Somewhere Inside of Happy” is this kind of book that I’d love to be able to read over and over again for the first time. It had me hooked from the start to the end, it was a powerhouse of a book and it made me feel so very emotional. It is already one of my top reads this year. It is so emotional that it made me cry actual tears, and I don’t often cry like a crocodile when reading. Yes, the books might make me sad and shed some tears, but they don’t often leave me in such a snotty state, and at the same time feeling so optimistic and full of hope.
”Somewhere Inside of Happy” is one of the warmest, heartbreaking books I have ever read. The author perfectly mixes the darkest, important issues with her exquisite sense of humour and delivers a fantastic, unputdownable book with fierce, strong and vivid characters. It is a story that for sure is going to stay with you for much longer – just like „The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes” is still with me, I won’t forget „Somewhere Inside of Happy”. It tugged at my heart – strings, I felt a part of this story, I kept my fingers crossed for the characters and I cried together with the broken family. With such a subject you could think it’s going to be a sad book, and it is, but it is also incredibly uplifting and I felt so proud at the sight of Maisie telling us to be proud and live the life we want to live. It was a beautiful book. Beautiful. Highly, highly recommended!
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