EXCERPT: Ah…the moment. There should have been a crack of thunder, the voice of God booming above the party music. But my destiny arrived in a small red envelope.
‘I found this on the doormat,’ Asha said. ‘A birthday card, I guess. Hand delivered.’
‘That’s weird. Why didn’t they knock?’
‘It’s probably a neighbour, having a dig about not being invited.’
‘But we asked practically the whole street. Tom insisted. He said it would stop us getting complaints.’
Asha shrugged. ‘I don’t know, maybe it dropped out of a present? Anyway, I’d better go back to Holly. She’s not in a good place.’
‘I’ll come over in a sec.’ Asha thanked me and threaded her way back to the table. Without a second thought, I ripped open the envelope and took out a birthday card. I stared at the champagne glass overflowing with bubbles and the silver ’40’ in the top corner. But it was the message inside that made my heart jump into my throat.
Happy birthday, Mum!
With love from the girl you gave away
ABOUT THIS BOOK: All she wanted was the life they had…
It is the day of Erin’s fortieth birthday party. Pink and silver balloons drift through her garden, the platters of food are empty and the recycling is overflowing with empty wine bottles.
As Erin mingles with groups of family and friends, surrounded by love and laughter, she feels like the luckiest woman alive. She has no idea what fate has in store …
Then a little red envelope lands on the doormat and everything changes.
Inside is a birthday card from somebody she never dreamed would get in touch. Its message is a chilling reminder of the dark past that Erin has worked so hard to bury, a past that could put her precious family in terrible danger…
MY THOUGHTS: The Girl You Gave Away by Jess Ryder began well, even if the dialogue was a little stilted. And mostly the story was enjoyable, although there were parts that seemed sleazy and left me feeling grubby which were, to be entirely fair, necessary to the plot.
The plot was interesting, but I think would have worked better if it had been set some years earlier than it was when the attitudes to teenage pregnancy weren’t so lenient as in the mid-nineties. I seem to remember that by then it was commonplace, and no one really cared. If this had have been set in the mid sixties to mid seventies, I would have found the attitudes and outcomes a lot more believable.
There was a lot going on in this book…relationship breakdowns, teenage pregnancy, adoption, kidnapping, blackmail, and mental health issues to name a few. Perhaps the author was trying to include a few too many things, cover too many bases. And instead of doing one or two things in depth and well, she has spread herself very thinly over too many different issues.
I expected this to be an emotional and heartwrenching read, but in the end I felt nothing for any of the characters.
I also found the ending totally unrealistic and annoying.
‘Those (reality) TV programmes are dangerous…they’re fairytales disguised as real life.’
THE AUTHOR: Jess Ryder is a pseudonym of novelist/screenwriter/television producer, Jan Page
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girl You Gave Away by Jess Ryder for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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