"When He Fell" Kate Hewitt
I bought this based on the fact that I had seen the cover of this on Twitter and it seemed a very popular title amongst other book bloggers. But I hadn't taken that much notice of what the reviews said- perhaps if I had, I wouldn't have found myself nearly reduced to tears in front the my children while I sneakily tried to finish off the last quarter of the book! Or maybe there's a lesson about parenting and supervision there....... Topical!!
I did enjoy this book. It was quite compulsive but that could have been because I was waiting for the twists and compounding dramatic events which is promised from the blurb. Not that this isn't delivered - in fact towards the end it is really quite harrowing. I literally did cover my hand with my mouth in distress at one particular sentence. I honestly felt very moved by the final climatic denouement.
At times I was a little unsure of the adult characters and how empathetic I felt towards them. Maddie is a little bit of a victim and has a slightly cliched past with slightly predictable issues but actually, Hewitt manages to ensure we are invested enough to care by creating several characters who are equally secretive, equally vulnerable and also equally unclear in some of their motives. The water is muddy. Nothing is clear cut and no one is completely innocent or blameless.
I was a little unsure of Lewis. He feels very reticent to really engage with either his wife Joanne or Maddie and at times I was a little frustrated by his silence. However, his relationship with his son and with Ben cannot be faulted and shows that ultimately he's not a bad guy. He is a man in turmoil and a man in dilemma. Although it took me a while to warm to the characters, I did become involved with them emotionally and did want to see them survive their shared trauma.
I thought that Hewitt captured the two boys with great conviction and authenticity. Josh is a very intriguing character and the psychology of his character is really well handled.
Hewitt weaves quite a tangled web where the relationships between the characters are confused and complicated. Both women are affected by previous issues and experiences which clouds their perspective and rationality. As well as themes of parenting, supervision and guilt, there is a lot about motherhood, pregnancy, love, relationships and marriage. This is not a book for the emotionally fragile!
I loved the premise of the novel. I thought it was a really clever situation to explore and as a mother of school aged children (and a lunch time supervisor!) it really did make me go cold at particular moments. It is a bit like "The Slap" but much more accessible with a much more redeeming cast of characters. To me, it also felt a little like Jodi Picoult in the sense that Hewitt has picked a highly emotive topic and really looks at the ensuing dilemmas from a range of perspectives. It is thought provoking.
I did read it quickly; I did find Hewitt's style and language very enjoyable and easy to read. She structures her story very successfully, throwing a cliffhanger or new piece of information in just when you think you have figured everything out. There are some great twists and plenty of suspense.
I would recommend it and I would like to read more from this author.
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