Nicky is the child with the hurting eyes and desperate ways. You want to rescue him.
Claus is the man with the empty eyes and controlling ways. You need to rescue her.
Broken by the death of her sister, Keziah is swept off her feet when Claus, a wealthy psychologist, walks into her life. She marries in haste.
But her husband’s idiosyncrasies, his unexplained absences and his locked room are easy to overlook ‒ until the past resurfaces and Keziah’s world explodes.
Meanwhile, nine-year-old Nicky is trying desperately to hold his small world together after his father walks out. He wants to be ‘the man of the house’ but he can’t keep his mum safe from her bad choices and violent boyfriends.
When Keziah ends up in hospital, her world collides with Nicky’s. The secrets he shares propel Keziah to the scene of two mysterious deaths, both of them linked to her husband…
Surviving Her is Jo Johnson’s second novel. Like her first book, Surviving Her doesn’t shy away from serious topics that as a psychologist Jo can write about with inside knowledge and authenticity. The psychology of childhood neglect, trauma, grief and emotional coercion are compassionately knitted within the twists and drama of this carefully crafted novel.
The Summer Holidays
Nicky, aged nine
‘I hate my teacher. I hate Mrs Hobbs because she’s a dirty fat liar.’
Nicky’s legs are stretched out across his dishevelled bed, his pyjama bottoms too short. Unable to stay still, he jerks his knees up and squeezes his skinny body into a tight ball. Thenhe rocks forward and back, hitting his head on the inhospitable wall, a little harder each time. The family photographs in brightly coloured frames tremble. But he doesn’t care because each bang soothes his tummy, his tangled-up tummy.
Today something disastrous happened. He thrusts his palms into his eye sockets and tries desperately to remember the details. He’d do anything to go back, back to this afternoon, to the time before his dad came home.
He wants to remember exactly what he was doing, because then he could rewind and change it. He could stop it, do as he was told, make it alright.
Today, at exactly six pm, he was at the kitchen table, by the corner with the broken tile, when he heard the electric gates. He stopped what he was doing to pay careful attention. First, the low grumble of the engine crunching up their gravel drive, then the gentle closing of the driver’s door and finally the locking ping. His chest released an audible sigh. Dad was home.
‘Put that stuff down and put ya bike away,’ Dad said, hanging up his long coat. He put down his essential briefcase with a thump and yanked Nicky’s cap over his eyes, placing a firm kiss just below his eye. Nicky inhaled his dad’s perfume and fresh minty breath.
It’s late now but not quite dark, and through his flimsy curtains the swimming pool ladder catches the light. When they moved in, that pool was so deep and so sparkly that he jumped
straight in, knees pulled high, holding his nose. It’s not blue any more, the sides are green and mouldy.
About the author