When I first received this book it reminded me of a Jodi Picoult or Diane Chamberlain novel, both of whom are excellent writers, so I was excited to see whether Caroline Bond could live up to my expectations. From the moment I dived into that very first chapter I knew she would…
‘Why do you love your child? Is it because they’re a straight A student, a talented footballer? Or is it simply because they’re yours?
Sarah and Phil love both their children, James and Lauren. The couple have the same hopes and aspirations as any parent. But their expectations are shattered when they discover that their perfect baby daughter has been born with a flaw; a tiny, but life-changing glitch that is destined to shape her future, and theirs, irrevocably.
Over time the family adapt and even thrive. Then one day a blood test casts doubt on the very basis of their family. Lauren is not Phil’s child. Suddenly, their precious family is on the brink of destruction. But the truth they face is far more complex and challenging than simple infidelity. It tests their capacity to love, each other and their children, and it raises the question of what makes – and what breaks – a family.’
My initial thoughts were of how this is very much a vigorous storyline. It is one that plays on your emotions, pulls on your heartstrings and shows your frustrations. Quite often my husband and I have laughed and said that “she’s yours, not mine” whilst referring to our children, in jest of course, but if this was actually the case, then I don’t know what I would do. The Second Child is a courageous novel that shows you exactly what one family did.
I can’t even begin to imagine the tirelessness of having a child that is unwell, that suffers with a disability and needs constant care and attention, doctors appointments and numerous hospital and welfare visits. I suppose when it is your own you just get on with it, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on with things as they are. We all love our children no matter what shape or size they come in, and what Caroline achieves so well with her writing is how much insight she gives us as a reader into the mechanics of a family facing a daily battle, and how they overcome challenges to make their lives full of so much love. Obviously there are down days, husband and wife arguments, resentment, but ultimately this is a tale about how families are not all the same, and that not all families are about blood.
Caroline takes you on an emotional journey through the power of writing. She has created a heart breaking beautiful story about love, family and commitment. She writes in an astonishing way that builds a bigger picture through the use of language and description, and she keeps you interested throughout. This is a novel that will have you mesmerised and trigger a lot of questions and thoughts in your own mind.
We see life through the eyes of both Phil and Sarah. We view their perspectives, their hopes, dreams, how they feel and think, and why they argue sometimes – differing opinions and regrets. Caroline portrays marriage very well through these two characters showing the strains that can be put upon any relationship.
What I loved the most were the solitary words on that final page. So simplistic but full of meaning, as at the end of it all, personally, all I really cared about was Lauren and what happened to her.
A big thank you goes to Corvus Books for sending me a copy in return for an honest review. The Second Child is available to buy now, and what might sway your boat towards getting yourself a copy is that it is in fact Radio 2’s latest bookclub choice!