The Stranger in My Home by Adele Parks
Publisher: Headline Review
Publishing Date: 9th February 2016
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 480
Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
The Number One eBook Bestseller
What would YOU do if your child wasn’t yours?
Utterly compelling, Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks’s new contemporary novel The Stranger In My Home, is sure to move, grip and delight her fans, along with readers of Liane Moriarty, Jane Shemilt and Lisa Jewell.
Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world.
Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it.
Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable.
The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.
When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose.
It’s already a long, long time since I’ve read an Adele Parks’ book, so I was over the moon when my review copy arrived – it has such a gorgeous cover, and I also loved the sound of the blurb, so intriguing and so promising. All the raving reviews have also made me desperate to read the book so sooner rather than later I found myself glued to the pages. It is for sure unusual book with a difference. Already the tag line “I thought she was my daughter. I was wrong” is so intriguing and after seeing it many scenarios kept scrolling in my head. It is a story about picking up pieces of broken hearts, about finding yourself afresh, dealing with what must be one of the worst possible things a mother can be told.
I think this is a book that you must discover and read for yourself and make up your own mind about it. It started very good, it was quickly paced and we didn’t have to wait long for the main secret to be revealed. Then the story is built around this secret and this is when it goes a little downhill for me. There is a lot of talk but not much is happening, in fact. However, then it comes to the surprising end that I didn’t see coming, really, it took me totally by surprise and I think this is what saved this book for. However, I can’t seem to remember if the author explained what has happened with Mozart?
The author makes it easy with her writing for us to immediately fell for the characters, to feel as devastated as Alison, Jeff, Olivia and Katherine. Just imagine – you are a normal family and then someone comes and destroys it and what should you do or feel, as a parent but also as a child? Adele Parks deals with this particular topic in a good way, I think, she explores all the possibilities, gives her characters free rein. She shows how differently they deal with the issue: when Alice is full of despair, Jeff retreats into his own fictional world, Olivia doesn’t want to accept any changes, she’s hostile and it’s only Katherine who’s flexible enough and open to changes – but are the changes really so good? Wouldn’t it be better to stay in the comfort zones, just like Olivia did? Or is there any particular reason why she’s behaving this way?
The characters are very realistically portrayed, with all their flaws and problems and the way they coped with the situation seemed also realistic – however, I haven’t expected that they come to terms with the situation so quickly, but on the other hand I think they didn’t have a choice, right? So their responses, the way they react are plausible and Adele Parks has proved that she’s a really talented author – because I think it wasn’t an easy task to get into the characters’ heads and to write them and their act this realistic way. Alison was a rather controversial character, I think. I don’t know guys, but if I were in the same situation I am not sure if I’d pushed so much towards keeping in touch with Tom Truby. She was very quick to judge other people and the way they brought their children up, yet her own methods were not the best in my opinion. It wondered me also a bit that she so quickly gave up on Olivia, and not because she felt loyal towards Katherine but just because the girl was not as she imagined her to be.
The book was gripping, even with the moments that dragged too much for my liking. I also had a feeling that the author hasn’t managed with the difficult topic so well. There was this great, promising idea but then the development was not as I had expected it. I mean, I didn’t know how the story should go, how it should end, what would be better, what would be worst, but I hoped for the better delivery and development. However, I mostly focused on the relationships and the way the author captured them all. This book is a great psychological portrait of all the characters and their way to cope with the situation, showing how they cope (or don’t!) with the revelation – and it also makes you wondering over and over again what you would do. I can’t imagine I could live normally after receiving such news. I also am not sure if I would like to know the truth or rather happily carry on without such knowledge.
The questions in this novel just keep rolling, and the author takes her time to answer them. The tension and the feeling of uncertainty, the questions of what to do are palpable. As it turns out, the story is full of half – truths and lies but Adele Parks’ skilful writing doesn’t give a hint till the end of what’s going to happen. So really, it is not the easiest book to read and rate. It could be much shorter, or it could be written differently, or it could focus on different things, and because of this it was a 3 stars for me for a long time. However, then came the twist – and yes, it was probably the only twist in this long story that was so shocking and unpredictable, that came out of the blue and hit me across my face and made many things in the book clear, and the rating immediately jumped to 4 stars. So whatever you think, keep reading! It will be worth in the end. Recommended!