Thanks to Penguin Random House Ireland for the ARC of this title...
Kate is just beginning to get her life back on track after a difficult few years. Her husband, Nick, has left her and their three children for a younger model and a new baby son. She has lost the family home and her dignity. Now herself and the children are living with her elderly father and are beginning to adjust. All this changes when her twelve-year-old daughter, Jessica, is diagnosed with leukemia.
There is no worse fear for a parent than the suffering of a child. Kate is knocked for six with the news and she tries to balance her emotions whilst also staying strong for her family. Her eighteen-year-old son, Luke, has given up on his father and her youngest son, Bobby, is not exactly enthralled with his missing parent either. However, Jess is torn between her two parents. She is the peace-maker, the sounding board and is full of youthful compassion. As her health deteriorates, she must surrender the parenting to her Mum and Dad. Hospital becomes her new world and she finds friendship within the children's ward. Each family member deals with Jessica's illness differently and they try to put their differences aside, not always successfully. Along with a great support network of friends, they try to make Jessica their priority.
Sinéad Moriarty brings the reader into the sadness of Kate's world as she deals with the most difficult situation imaginable. The anger she feels must be set aside, the resentment smothered and the bitter pills swallowed. She does her best to balance her time between all three children, yet her heart is slowly breaking. Nick is in complete denial (and is tormented by non-stop phone calls from an insecure girlfriend) and tensions are wrought. The story is written with tenderness and with a good touch of humour. There is an on-going diary entry from Bobby, which although not completely necessary, shows how he is dealing with the changes in his life. But it is Luke who adds a nice parallel narrative. His story unfolds alongside his sisters, with his girlfriends family adding much-needed light-relief. (Think of the family in Roddy Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy) There is laughter to balance the tears and childhood innocence to counteract the darkness of cancer treatment. Moriarty has managed to combine the beauty of The Fault in our Stars, the sadness of Me Before You and the emotions of My Sister's Keeper. Jessica is a wonderful character who will linger in your thoughts, long after you turn the final page. I have tweeted the author, advising her that I shall forward my bill for tissues and therapy.
The Good Mother is published by Penguin Random House in TBP and ebook format. You can order your copy in all good bookshops or via amazon link below: