‘This is an astonishing story about two people trying to make sense of their broken lives.’
Thank you so much to Ailsa at Allison and Busby for sending me a copy of The Last Time We Spoke. I requested this book as I knew straight away that it was going to be right up my street. I love harrowing storylines that make you think deeply, and this certainly falls into that category.
‘One mild summer evening in rural New Zealand the lives of Carla Reid, a middle-aged farmer’s wife, and Ben Toroa, an illiterate teen, brutally collide. Neither will be the same again, their futures forever linked. In the bleak aftermath of this home invasion, ‘The Last Time We Spoke’ traces both Carla and Ben’s journey as they each try to make sense of their new reality. Carla’s long road from rage and resentment interweaves with Ben’s time in prison as he hardens into manhood. Set against these parallel stories is also the voice of a Maori ancestor who looks down from Beyond, transporting the story to a wider historical stage. Many years after their first encounter, Carla and Ben’s lives once more intersect, again with astonishing consequences.’
Fiona uses simple language in a very clever way. She creates a story that is full of grief and the need for justice, that leaves you hankering on every written word. It is such a sophisticated tale, so simple and well-written.
We begin with our lead character Carla discovering she is pregnant, the excitement she feels of being given this news after years of trying is emotional. But what comes next is shocking; a heinous crime is committed and a long path to redemption begins.
We get very involved with what happens next between both Carla and Ben, and how their lives will forever cross, tied together by such a hideous act. Carla struggles with moving on from that night; a home invasion would be horrifying for anyone, but a child’s death, no-one should ever have to go through that. Ben on the other hand needs to face up to what he has done and why on earth he did.
The moments following ‘that night’ are powerful. It is very effective storytelling as you feel compassion and a need to follow Carla on her journey of the aftermath. What Carla does next, I have the utmost respect for. It is nice that Fiona has created such a character that people can aspire to be like – not all people have the capacity for patience or forgiveness, so Carla is a complete breath of fresh air.
The Last Time We Spoke is already available to buy or download now… so go on, you know you want to.
‘It is a provocative and dark tale, but ultimately one of hope and human possibility.’