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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Way Back to Us @kaylangdale @Hodderbooks

About The Way Back to Us

Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don't know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy's care who constantly watch over Anna's parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else - including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can't seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can't help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

My review of The Way Back to Us

I'll just start by saying that The Way Back to Us is such a beautiful book that completely resonated with me. It's an emotional story about family, about disability and of how a couple's relationship is tested to breaking point. I feel that this is such an important book, as it gently, yet openly, discusses what it is like for the entire family to raise a child with a disability. This is one raw, emotional and at times, unsettling read. 

My youngest son is autistic, and so for me this book really hit home. I felt as though it spoke directly to me. Would I have viewed the story in an entirely different way, if I wasn't a parent to a child with additional needs? Probably, yes, but, I do feel that anyone reading this book, whether they have experience of the subject matter or not, would enjoy the story.

So, the story is told from four points of view. We have the parents, Anna and Tom, and then the two children, Isaac and Teddy. Anna is the stay at home mum, the main carer for Teddy who has SMA, spinal muscular atrophy, a generic disease that effects a person's ability to eat, walk or breathe as it alters the motor nerve pathways within the spine. This is a debilitating and life changing disease. Anna had had a successful career, but she gave it all up to care for Teddy. Anna was so real to me, I understood her. That need to protect her child, the guilt she felt for not being able to spend as much time with her eldest son, Isaac, or her husband. The fact that she believed she was the only person who could care for her son in the right way. All of this rang very true to me. 

This is a story about relationships, those between husband and wife, parent and child, and siblings. All of these different relationships are explored  via the differing viewpoints, told in alternating chapters.  For me, the most illuminating were the accounts of both Tom and Isaac. Tom was a father trying to do his absolute best for his boys. But while reading I wondered if Anna had gene too far in pushing him away. Would he ever find his way back to her? As for Isaac, my heart broke for this little boy. He has had to grow up quickly, be independent and act very much like one of the adults. I wanted to reach into the book and give him a big cuddle. While reading about him I thought about my eldest little boy. I really do feel that the author got this sibling relationship spot on. It brought  a lump to my throat.

I would like to thank the author for writing such a beautiful novel that discusses family life with a disabled child. She doesn't shy away from the gritty difficulties, but tackles them head on in a sensitive and empathetic manner. 

The Way Back to Us is a novel about family, about disability, but most of all it is about hope and love. This is such a special book and I can't praise it highly enough. It's a must read. 

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for a paperback proof copy. 

The Way Back to Us was published by Hodder & Stoughton on August 10th.  It can be found on Amazon here.

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