They’d left their daughter with us, their only child, and we hadn’t protected her. That was all they would see when they looked at us—that we had failed them.
I count down the days until we can leave the city behind and return to the beach house. Where James and Katie can roam free over the dunes, like they did as children, and Peter will swap his 6 a.m. starts for the stacks of fluffy pancakes he lovingly serves up for our family breakfasts. These sun-drenched, golden days, just the four of us, are what I hold on to all year long.
But this summer Katie’s best friend will be coming with us. I tell myself the girls will have fun together, pushing aside the doubts I have about this uninvited guest. Isa. With her corn-silk hair and luminous skin, who manages to overshadow my daughter at every turn. Who has been dumped on us by her own parents, too caught up in their petty dramas to see what is right in front of them.
Because I can see it. There is something dangerous about Isa. Something more than a carefree girl, testing boundaries as she approaches adulthood. She threatens to cast storm clouds across my beach house days. I feel as powerless to stop her as I would in the face of a hurricane.
By the end of the summer, Isa will be dead. And I will have to face her mother. I don’t know if I will be able to find the words. How can I begin to explain that she never really knew her daughter at all?
I believe it’s not possible to know someone completely. Everybody has small (or sometimes not so small) things they want to keep to themselves and honestly I think that’s fine. As long as you don’t hurt anyone in the process of course.
When it’s about children, parents should try their best to show interest or it will go from bad to worse when the young adults feel abandoned.
When you decide to leave your child in the hands of someone else though it’s important to inform them about the child’s behaviour and mindset so they can act accordingly, but when this is neglected the consequences can be very harsh.
Some people will be able to deal with it after a while, others never will.
This is a story about guilt and blaming others, about delving in your memories in order to reveal the missing pieces, about keeping silent when it benefits you, about betrayal and pain.
The book starts with a devastating scene. Then the author takes us from the present to the past and back in order to fill us in. The middle part is a bit slower paced, but I did not mind that. It gave me plenty of time trying (and failing obviously once again) to figure out what actually happened. Afterwards, hold on tight because we are coming into a mealstrom.
I was captivated the whole time. A very enjoyable read. 5 stars.
Thank you, Jennifer Harvey and Bookouture
About the author
Jennifer Harvey is a Scottish writer now living in The Netherlands.
She is the author of three novels.
Someone Else’s Daughter will be published on June 18th 2020 with Bookouture.
Two more titles will follow in October 2020 and May 2021.
Her short stories have been published in numerous literary magazines in the US and the UK, such as Bare Fiction, Litro Online, Carve Magazine, Folio, and The Lonely Crowd.
She has been shortlisted for various short story prizes including the Bristol Prize, the University of Sunderland Short Story Award and the Bridport Prize. Her radio dramas have won prizes and commendations from the BBC World Service. She has been longlisted twice for the Bath Novel Award.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenAnneHarvey1 (@JenAnneHarvey1)