My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
ABOUT THE BOOK
‘I’m so sorry, Casey’, my link worker, John, said, sounding weary. ‘I know this is probably the worst time I could ring you, but we desperately need someone to take a child tonight.’ It’s the night before Christmas when Casey and Mike get the call. A twelve-year-old girl, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Her step-father is on a ventilator, fighting for his life, while her mother is currently on remand in prison. Despite her mother claiming she attacked him in self-defence, she’s been charged with his attempted murder. The girl is called Bella, and she’s refusing to say anything. The trouble is that she is also the only witness…
WHAT I THOUGHT
This is the first book I have read by Casey Watson, and truth be told, also the first sort of non-fiction book I have read of this kind. For those that don’t know, Casey is a specialist foster carer and writes under a pseudonym, I assume to protect both her own, and her family’s identity. Casey and her husband Mike, look after children who are particularly troubled or damaged by their past, and whilst in their care, they guide them through a specially designed behavioural programme, enabling the children to be moved on, either back to their parents or into mainstream foster care. Casey has written a total of fourteen books so if you enjoy this one, then there are certainly more you can delve into!
Although I requested this book to review, I was a little apprehensive about reading it as I knew that this kind of book would be one to really pull on my heartstrings. I am a mum of two young girls, so any story that is about extraordinary children and their troublesome lives will drain me emotionally. Despite this though, I was so pleased I gave it a chance, as it made me see life in a different light and to truly appreciate all the things I take for granted day in, day out, every day of the week.
I adored the way this book reads like a novel, and doesn’t just contain cold-hard facts about a young girl whose life isn’t going quite right at the moment. It made it so much more easier and enjoyable to read. From the moment I first read about Bella, my mothering instinct kicked in and I just wanted to cuddle her and place her somewhere safe, and luckily the safest place for her was Casey’s home.
We are pretty much thrown straight into the lives of Bella and Casey, and I have to hand it to Casey, she is very much on the ball. It is the night before Christmas when Casey hears that Bella will be turning up on her doorstep, and Christmas at the best of times can be stressful with all the planning and organising, so when Casey straight away kicks into action, like some sort of military operation, it is pretty impressive. She boots Mike, her husband, out the door to fetch some Christmas presents for Bella to open, and gets Tyler, her foster son, cleaning the spare bedroom. Casey clearly knows how to handle any kind of situation.
I’ve got to say that what an amazing, intelligent, kind, loving, selfless, strong woman Casey must be. The things she must have seen in her time, I can’t bear to think about, let alone comprehend. So not only does Casey have all of these qualities, she is also a very talented writer – what can’t this woman do? Hats off to her as I couldn’t do what she does everyday.
I don’t want to use the phrase “I was completely hooked” as this is people’s lives we are talking about here, not some make-believe television drama, but I really couldn’t stop reading it. I didn’t want to put it down. My heart was with Bella from the very beginning as she struggled to deal with what happened on that dreadful night.
Bella I can only describe as your average girl, well-dressed, well-spoken, hasn’t gone without as we see that her mother and step-father even bought her a new iPod for Christmas. She isn’t a trouble maker, reads a lot and shows an enthusiasm to do some schoolwork even though she isn’t back at school yet. Although could she be hiding behind schoolwork and in fact be on social media? And is she just covering for her mum, or is there something more to this twelve-year-old girl?
You could see that Casey simply loved having Bella around and she was frightened that she might be taken off her, especially when her current location was leaked, jeopardising Bella’s safety. It shows what kind of people they both are – loving and caring, they wanted to be around each other.
I loved, loved, loved the emphasis on Harry Potter throughout. Bella always had her nose stuck in a Harry Potter book which goes to show that most kids love a bit of escapism. Casey in fact takes Bella, Tyler, and one of Tyler’s friends to London for the weekend and they visited the Harry Potter studios. The kids faces lit up the whole weekend and it goes to show how selfless Casey is, because even though she says that it probably cost more than they could really afford at the time, she still took them anyway. Just to see the huge grins on their faces – now that is what love is all about.
You will be pleased to know that Bella does finally talk. What she says, I won’t spoil for you as it does make for an interesting read. Life swings back into Bella’s favour, and I can only hope it stays that way as she is such a bright young girl.
I want to say a huge thank you to both Casey for opening my eyes to life, and Jasmine Gordon at Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to read what can only be described as an emotional book, in return for an honest review.
This book is available to buy on the 1st June 2017 so pre-order now!
My final word: Emotional.