Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely
Publishing Date: 20th October 2016
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 416
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Crime
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO BE THE PERFECT MOTHER?
A timeless story of mothers and daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist, this heart-wrenching debut for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jane Shemilt and The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas will make you question how you and your family spend time online
Isabel Murrow is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a perilous world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe.
Phoebe has just attempted suicide. She says it is Isabel’s fault.
Saving Phoebe Murrow is a timely tale about an age-old problem – how best to raise our children, and how far to go in keeping them from harm. Set amidst the complicated web of relationships at the school gate, it tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.
When I first heard about “Saving Phoebe Murrow” by Herta Feely, and then read the synopsis, I had a feeling that it could the right book for me. There are things that bother me so much nowadays, I sometimes think that I was born in the wrong times to be honest, and cyber – bullying, and bullying altogether, belong to topics that are close to my heart. After reading the story I couldn’t believe how sick this particular character was! I felt disgust and disbelief and I truly couldn’t believe that an adult could behave like this. What’s worse, as the author says herself, such thing happened – Herta Feely was inspired to write this book on an actual event of cyber bullying, an event that didn’t end in a good way – and to think that there are really such sick people in the world makes me scared. Actually, this one extra star is for the topic of this book, which is incredibly in – thing, important and should be better controlled. It is one of my biggest fear that one day my daughter could experience something like Phoebe has experienced.
It is a very thoughtful and insightful book about bullying – cyber bullying, to be specific, and I incredibly felt for the fourteen year old Phoebe, your usual, average teenager for whom appearances are everything, for whom being popular and having the right friends is the be – all and end – all and who was so blameless in all this chaos that ensued around her. The author in a very realistic, shocking way describes what’s happening and what kind of pressure it is on the characters. This book is brutally honest and I really felt uncomfortable when reading it – but not because the book was bad or something, no, because I can’t believe that people are capable to do such things and because I fell for Phoebe so much. The writing style is very engaging and accessible and easy to follow and the characters and their acts got under my skin. Those were actually the character that made “Saving Phoebe Murrow” so special and outstanding. They were the best kind of characters who made you change your mind about them – they twisted my opinion on them, back and forth, over and over again. They are very, very well drawn! Their personalities are brilliantly captured and they are so very different, which makes the reading so much more interesting. I had some problems with Phoebe’s mother, Isabel, to be honest, she was really über – caring in my eyes and yes, I know it’s easy to say such things from the reading sofa’s perspective, but she was much too controlling, much to arrogant and much too abrasive and judgemental, and not only towards Phoebe but towards all other characters, even her own husband. She judged people on the way how they look like or what kind of job they have – hello? Sure, we want to protect our children, but we can’t shut them off from the whole world, they have to make their own mistakes and the mistakes made by Phoebe were not as bad as she thought. But for Isabel things were either black or white, there was no grey area in her life.
Sandy is a very interesting, complex characters in my opinion – a woman whose only goal in life is to fit in and make right friends, just like her child, but fails, which changes her incredibly.
It was easy to indentify with Phoebe, even though she’s in her teenage years and I am already a mother myself, having forgotten about high school and all the ups and downs, but reading about her own ups and downs brought some of the things back. I found myself understanding her emotions, her anger, fear, sadness. She was such a kind girl, really, who didn’t deserve this what’s happened and this being so cruel and nasty.
Social media plays of course a very big role in this story. It is so easy to turn against your friend when you’re hidden behind the computer screen, when you think there are no consequences or when the consequences won’t pique you personally.
It was a relatively well paced read and it was full of tension and uncertainty but also a lot of concern for what’s going to happen. The things that bothered me a little were the many shifts in the points of view, there were moments it dragged on a little for my liking and to be honest, the end didn’t sit with me so well. It was too abrupt, too rushed and didn’t feel like the end at all and I like when the characters that deserve it are punished. However, I was totally engrossed in this story and I was desperate to know what’s going to happen. It was a very convincing debut about the effect of bullying and the pressure of belonging to the “right” circle of people. A book that makes you think, that is thought – provoking, showing how devastating the consequences of half – baked ideas may be. “Saving Phoebe Murrow” is really true to life and probably this is why it made me feel so scared – I hate to think that something like this may happen to my own daughter in a few years time. I’m not sure what I’d do in such situation, it’s such an awful thing to happen. I am already looking forward to Herta Feely’s next novel.