Book Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson

I Wanted You To Know

I read ‘Missing Pieces’ by Laura Pearson a while ago and really enjoyed it – so when I was offered the chance to read an advance review copy of Ms Pearson’s most recent book, I accepted it immediately.

Since reading Missing Pieces I have followed Laura on Twitter – and so knew she’d been through a breast cancer diagnosis whilst pregnant with her second child.  That personal experience has clearly been the driving force for this book.

Here’s the blurb:

“Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you them in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.
Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone while facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter to grow up without her.
Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have.
From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a true love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.”

This book is absolutely, brutally, brilliant.

I cried A LOT reading it – and Laura doesn’t shy away from the shittiness of breast cancer at all – but it’s not all doom and gloom.  The relationships between Jess and her daughter / mother / best friend / father / ex boyfriend / best mate’s brother are all explored beautifully.

I guess I empathised most with Jess’s BFF Gemma.  One of my best friends had her own breast cancer journey a couple of years ago – and I was the one trying to be a supportive friend.  Admittedly I didn’t have to take care of a newborn like Gemma does in the book – but we did borrow her son as our 5th child for a week to take him away for half term.  It’s the balance of trying to keep things ‘normal’ whilst still recognising that things are never going to be normal ever again.  The letters Jess writes to Edie also made me really emotional – as there were many things my friend was scared she wouldn’t see – her daughter smashing her GCSEs and A-levels and turning 18, her son going to his Middle School prom and starting High School – all the type of things Jess addresses in her letters to her daughter who isn’t even a year old at the time.

Just like ‘Missing Pieces’ a dysfunctional family is central to the storyline – and written about so well – and you could totally empathise with lots of the characters (and want to punch others).

This is not a fun, easy, light hearted read – it really does make you think about being grateful for what you have RIGHT NOW – and speaking up for that, telling people what you think – and not waiting until it’s too late – or almost too late.

Whilst it made me do big snotty crying, I still really enjoyed this book – and a huge thank you to Netgalley for my ARC.  I know there will be people where this is a bit too close to home – and I’m not sure whether it would be a good or bad thing for someone in a similar circumstance to read it.

Most of all, and very selfishly, I’m bloody chuffed that my friend didn’t have to write letters to her children like Jess did………

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson

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I saw this on Netgalley and thought it looked interesting and so requested it – and was delighted to receive an advance review copy.  Although I’ve been a bit slack and not read it until after publication – but at least that means you can buy it now, rather than me tempting you and then you having to wait – for which I have form!!

Here’s the blurb that enticed me:

“What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?
All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.
Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.
That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?
A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?”

Now – I don’t like reviews to have spoilers, but sometimes parts of the storyline are so fundamental, and also so difficult for people who’ve been through situations, that I think the blurb needs to be upfront.   So – if you don’t want to know any more then stop now – but I think it needs to be said that this book’s entire premise is based around the death of a young child.  Having watched a friend lose her son (in his instance to an evil b*stard brain tumour) I think it could be really upsetting for someone to pick up this book not knowing that was going to blindside them within the first chapter.

The first half of the book is set in the immediate aftermath of the death of Phoebe in the mid 80s.  It is written just beautifully and is very emotional.  I found it hard going at times – emotionally.  But you wanted to keep reading and know what happened.  Each chapter is at a new date and it specifies the number of days since Phoebe’s death – starting in single digits and increasing.

The book is set in Southampton – where I went to University – and the campus, and the Common both feature – and I always like having such reference points – although geographical knowledge definitely wasn’t fundamental to enjoying the book.

The second half of the book is much closer to now – in fact 9,000+ days from Phoebe’s death.  It’s very interesting picking up with the characters – from the Sadler family and peripheral people – after such a large period of time has passed. This chunk of the book finally explains what actually happened to Phoebe – and how many of the central characters blames themselves for the events of that fateful day. It felt like the whole  book was building to the point where you found out what happened.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, and the way the individuals develop is really interesting.  It ends with potential new beginnings for most of the characters – which is lovely after a read that was harrowing at times.

This is Laura Pearson’s debut novel – but I am sure it won’t be her last, as it is really good, well written, pacy and keeps you wanting to read on. I’m not sure there could be a sequel – although I’d love to know what happens to Esme and Bea in particular.

Now – again – I’m going to try and shoe horn this into a category on my reading challenge 2018 – this time I’m going for ‘A book with song lyrics in the titles’, as Missing Pieces is a song by Jack White.  And yes, I did have to Google that – but it felt quite apt, as my son’s guitar teacher had cancelled his lesson that night as he was off to see Jack White in concert in London. #spooky.  Equally it could fit into ‘A book that involves a bookstore or library’ – let’s see what categories I need to juggle about with come December!