Published: September 2016 by Orenda Books
Category: Drama, Family, Psycological, Book Review
A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself. On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.
After several years of moving from one foster home to another, ten year old Conor has been settled with his latest foster mother, Anne, for five years. Both are very happy with the arrangement. His birth mother is unable to care for him but won’t agree to an adoption hence the foster care. Despite what he has been through in his short life, Conor has proved to be quite adaptable although he does understandably have issues. One of his passions is art, at which he excels. The other is Mohammed Ali, whom he hero-worships.
I love the way Louise Beech has used Conor’s Life Book, written by social workers and other people who are important in Conor’s life, to tell his back story. Extracts from the book, a lot of them quite sad, are interspersed throughout the narrative.
One such person is Bernadette, an unhappy young woman with a controlling and sometimes cruel husband. She has befriended Conor through volunteering, and they’ve become an important part of each other’s lives for the past five years. As the story opens Bernadette is leaving her husband, waiting until he arrives home to tell him. But the man who keeps to such a tight schedule, always arriving home at the exact same time, is late.
She waits in the window every night for her husband, Richard, to return from work. He always arrives at six. He is never late or early; she never needs to reheat his meal or change the time she prepares it. She never has to cover cooling vegetables with an upturned plate or call and ask where he is.