Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Book Review: MY HUSBAND'S SON by Deborah O'Connor

My Husband's Son

 My Husband's Son
Author: Deborah O'Connor
Publisher: Twenty7
Read: July 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

You'd always recognise your own son. Wouldn't you?

Heidi and Jason aren't like other couples.

Six years ago, Heidi's daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason's son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.

By chance, Heidi meets a boy she's certain is Barney.

But Jason is equally convinced it's not him.

Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi's newfound quest for the truth . . .

My thoughts:

Heidi and Jason may appear like an ordinary married couple to outsiders, but those close to them know that they have an unusual bond – they met in a support group for grieving parents after having had their children abducted by strangers. Whilst Heidi knows that her daughter is dead, having been raped and murdered by the man who took her, Jason still has hope that his son Barney will be found alive. Time and time again he has had his hopes dashed, as children believed to be Barney have turned out to be strangers. One day Heidi spots a boy she is convinced looks like the computer-generated image of Barney, who would be 8 years old by now, in a liquor store on the wrong side of town. However, after reluctantly agreeing to have a brief look at the child, Jason is sure that the boy is not his son and refuses to investigate any further. But in her heart Heidi knows that the boy is Barney, and she is determined to bring him home ....

I was thoroughly intrigued by the premise explored in My Husband’s Son – would it be possible that a marriage of two people who have lost the very thing they treasure most of all – their children – could ever succeed? Would they find comfort in each other’s grief, or would this ultimately destroy them? Especially when Heidi, who knows that she will never have the chance to take her daughter into her arms again, encounters Jason’s resistance to consider that the child she saw could be Barney. Would she be angry and resentful? Or would it make her more determined? Unfortunately I felt that I was never fully allowed to explore Heidi and Jason’s deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings. Despite, or maybe because of, such an emotionally charged issue, the author may have shied away from delving too deeply into the darker emotions her characters may have felt,  which is a pity, as it would have given the story a lot more depth for me.  I kind of understood the reasons for their actions, but I would have loved to be allowed to truly feel them in all their gory details. Especially when Jason claims that a parent would always instinctively recognise their child, no matter how many years would have passed. How does Heidi feel about that, when she is so convinced that he is wrong? And why would a woman who has suffered so much already ever allow herself to get entangled with an unsavoury character like Tommy? What I am trying to say is that the characters seem to hold the reader at arms’ length, which was frustrating – as we witness the slow unravelling of Heidi’s life, she still appears distant and aloof and I so wanted to be allowed to look into her head and to feel her anger, her grief, her obsession with making this right. This may also have explained the twist at the end, which will shock and surprise many readers, as it is no doubt intended to. I thought it was somehow a fitting end to the story, even if many will disagree. All in all an intriguing if not totally satisfying read. Pick it up and judge for yourself! 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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