Pretty much everyone in town knew my name, although not because there was anything special about me. That was fine, or, at least, I was used to it.
Published by Atom in January
Pages – 309
Before she was adopted by a loving family and raised in a leafy Home Counties town, Cass Montgomery was Cass Jones. Her memories of her birth family disappeared with her name. But when her adopted family starts to break down, a way out comes in the form of a message from her lost brother, Aidan. Having Aidan back in her life is both everything she needs and nothing she expected. Who is this boy who calls himself her brother? And why is he so haunted?
This might be the first book I’ve read by Keren David, but I am absolutely certain it won’t be my last. I was hooked from page one and carried it everywhere with me until I finished it. And what an emotional ride I took! The story tugs on your heart strings while keeping you completely engrossed. Encompassing difficult subjects such as foster care, families breaking down and physical and mental abuse, you find yourself desperate for a happy ending.
The story has a dual narrative and each character jumped off the page. It was fascinating to read such contrasting lifestyles. Cass has been brought up with the best of everything, where as Aidan had made do with the world’s left overs. Yet neither are happy with their lives. Cass feels pressured to perform well at school by her crumbling family while also dealing with the fall out from her father’s rather public affair. Aidan is just waiting for the past to catch up with him. These characters are so different in some ways, but very similar in others. They were both lonely and looking for the missing piece in their lives; not that Cass realised that in the beginning.
The story unfolded at a steady pace and you soon realise there is more to Aidan than we are first shown. He is finally in a place where he is happy, yet he knows it could all easily shatter before him. As the book suggests, he is broken, but with the help of Holly, he is slowly mending. Yet as I mentioned above, he has a past, which is threatening to ruin his new found happiness.
The ending was brilliant. I loved the way the family dynamics changed and finally both characters seem to discover and realise what they had actually been looking for. When I finished reading the book, I realised the story had stayed with me. It left me with hope for the children who do experience difficult upbringings; that perhaps hope can be salvaged to finally bring a little ray of happiness into their lives. That perhaps they won’t let their unfortunate beginnings define the person they become.
If I had to compare it with another book, it would be Blood Familly by Anne Fine, which also looks at the effects of adoption on a child coping with their past. This is a gritty and realistic read - a perfect example of UKYA at it’s best.