27/03/2014

Finding You (by Giselle Green)


I read Giselle Green’s debut novel ‘Pandora’s Box’ almost six years ago, and loved it so much that I was determined to read any other books she might write - and have not been disappointed. A year later I read the very moving ‘Little Miracles’. It was about a young couple whose only child Hadyn - a young toddler - vanished one day, while playing on the beach in Spain. His parents, Charlie and Julia, discover a great deal about themselves and their past as they work through their grief and anger, and Julia never gives up hope. At the end of the book there’s an implication that they have found him, but it was left open, and I always hoped that there would be a sequel.

‘Finding You’ is exactly that, so I was delighted to be offered an advance review copy of the e-book which is to be released at the end of March. It picks up on the story a few months after Hadyn is back with Charlie and Julia, just before they return home to England. The novel stands alone, so I didn’t re-read ‘Little Miracles’ first; it’s not necessary, but I’m glad I did have at least a vague memory of the original as this gave a sense of closure to the story.

The narration, as with the first book, is split between Charlie and Julia, each writing in the first person and in the present tense. This is a good device as it enables the reader to see both points of view when, inevitably, they have disagreements or different experiences. And, as we quickly discover, life is decidedly stressful, despite their tremendous relief at having found their son again.

Julia’s perspective helped me to empathise strongly with her as a mother who slowly realises that all is not well with her son. I wanted to give her a hug: to remind her that he had been through a lot of experiences in his short life; that his difficulty communicating wasn’t surprising, given that he had been thrust into a year of hearing nothing but Spanish, and was now expected to understand English again.

Charlie, meanwhile, is torn between his professional life as a surgeon, with an unofficial offer of promotion, and trying to support Julia emotionally. As a medic he see his role as fixing problems; so when he realises that Hadyn isn’t adjusting as quickly as might be expected, he takes professional advice, which Julia disagrees with strongly. And I absolutely sided with Julia.

At the same time, Charlie’s father is becoming increasingly frail in his nursing home, and Charlie’s ex-fiancĂ©e Lourdes keeps impinging on Julia’s life...

It’s impossible to say much more without introducing spoilers; suffice it to say that this novel is very well put together, the various threads unfolding gradually, alongside some delving into Charlie’s past and his relationship with his father. The characterisation is excellent. There were times when I felt there was a tad too much introspection, as one or other of the protagonists pondered recent events, but that was partly because I was so eager to find out what was going to happen next.

I suspected the truth about Hadyn’s difficulties quite early on in the book, and wanted to take Julia on one side to make a gentle suggestion. But she has to follow her heart, to discover whether her fears about him are true, and there are some quite emotional scenes before the end. By the time I was about three-quarters of the way through this book, I couldn’t put it down and had to neglect everything else to finish it. In contrast to ‘Little Miracles’, it has an entirely satisfactory and conclusive ending, which might seem too neat and tidy to some readers, but which I approved of thoroughly.

All in all, I would recommend ‘Finding You’ highly to anyone who enjoys this kind of character-driven thoughtful novel, whether or not you have read the previous one.

Initially published in e-book format only, but it should be available in paperback later in the year.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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