Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs at http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/
Alison has been reading Inside Of Me by Hazel McHaffie
This is a very interesting novel, with an intelligent and thoughtful storyline and some well-crafted and believable characters. The subject matter covers many areas of body image, identity, gender and family relationships, in a very sympathetic way. The dynamics of family are well-portrayed and the prejudices, preconceptions and misconceptions we have about others, even those we are closest to, are well-drawn and feel authentic.
India has many of the attributes of a typical teenage girl, who turns angry, confused, needing her parents but needing her independence too. There were times however, when I wanted to feel more sympathy for her, but found this difficult because of the way she treated her mother. And while I appreciate that many girls of this age have conflicts like this with their mothers, there seemed to be no connection at all, which spoiled things a little for me.
Victor was drawn very well and in a very non-judgemental way, which was refreshing and valuable in the current climate. I found his storyline to be the most interesting of all the characters.
I felt very sorry for Tonya and felt she was treated rather unfairly. I would have liked things to have gone better for her – she seemed to have been left with all the issues, all the conflict, all the drama and difficulty and was expected to get on with it – which she did. There wasn’t a lot of sympathy here for her, or for the mistakes she made (which we all do). However, this portrayal was probably more realistic in the circumstances, and the author has stayed true to her story, and to her characters.
There were a few little details in the plot that I felt were a little too contrived, a little too coincidental, but on the whole this is a well-written, well-researched and enjoyable novel.
Four out of five stars.
India Grayson is a happy 8-year-old girl, adored by her father, cherished by her mother. She’s devastated when her beloved father, Victor, suddenly disappears, leaving nothing but a neatly folded pile of clothes on a windy beach in Scotland. She bargains with God: no more chocolate … roast potatoes … packed lunch … if you send my daddy back.
Now 15 and in the grip of anorexia, she’s convinced she heard his voice on a crowded London station and is determined to find him.
Isolated and overwhelmed, her mother, Tonya, succumbs to gnawing doubts about the man she thought she knew. Where was he on the night two teenage girls went missing? What was he really doing when he was away for two days and nights without explanation? Who exactly was he? What dark secrets were haunting him?
A third teenager goes missing in London in the same week India thinks she heard his voice. Can he be involved? Should Tonya share her secret suspicions with the police? Will India ever forgive her if she does? And how far will India go to be reunited with him?
The revelation when it comes is much more challenging than Tonya ever dreamed of.
Body image issues and identity crises trouble us all at times; this gripping story reaches to the core of what makes us ourselves and how we live with our doubts and conflicts.
About the author
Hazel McHaffie has changed career several times – nurse, midwife, university researcher, novelist. She’s a workaholic with obsessive tendencies and a taste for chopping things very small. Her last publication as an academic, Crucial Decisions at the Beginning of Life, won the BMA Medical Book of the Year award in 2002 and her fifth novel, Right to Die, was highly recommended by the BMA in 2009. She has published seven novels, all set in the world of medical ethics (assisted conception, decision making on behalf of those who can’t choose for themselves, assisted suicide), completed another one, and is currently researching and writing the ninth. After winning a couple of small prizes, her photo has appeared frequently in a creative writing course advert in publications as diverse as The Big Issue, Daily Telegraph, Private Eye and Gardeners World! She has a website http://www.hazelmchaffie.com and writes a weekly blog, VelvetEthics.