Book Review: In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes
In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes is an astonishing novel. I read it in one sitting as I could not tear myself away from the shocking and harrowing tale on the pages.
Jude Williams is practically abandoned when her mother commits suicide. As if struggling to deal with this unexpected loss is not enough, Jude is is then subjected to awful sexual abuse and she is only six years old.
Caroline Smailes does not shy away from the details of these encounters and I was shocked throughout the book. I think that the author is incredibly brave to write with such honesty, it is because society talks about sexual abuse in hushed whispers that it often goes unnoticed. There are so many people in the book, Jude's family, neighbours, teachers, children at school yet you really do feel how lonely and isolated Jude feels. She is carrying around this terrible, terrible burden and shame on her own.
Jude's mother left a suicide note to her daughter explaining that she has gone in search of Adam. It is not until five years later that Jude finally reads her mother's diary and discovers that Adam was the brother that she never knew she had; he was dead before she was even conceived. This element of the story seems to make it even more shocking; Jude's terrible life and experiences all owe something to Adam and the devastation that his death caused. It is as though she is being punished for a death that she didn't even know about.
Caroline Smailes does not stick to the standard format of a book. Words are laid out on the page in a very particular manner, some form shapes; some are bold; many are repeated. This presentation adds so much to the book, they give it a childlike element and do not allow you to forget that the person experiencing these horrific events is merely a young, innocent child.
In Search of Adam is an extremely shocking book and not a nice, easy read. But I believe it is an important book written by an exceptionally brave and honest writer who is not afraid to push the boundaries.