21.12.12

Book Review: After the Fall by Charity Norman

In the quite of a New Zealand winter's night, a rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. He's fallen from the upstairs veranda of an isolated farmhouse, and his condition is critical. At first, Finn's fall looks like a horrible accident; after all he's prone to sleep walking. Only his frantic mother, Martha McNamara knows how it happened. And she isn't telling. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
Tragedy isn't what the McNamara family expected when they moved to New Zealand. For Martha, it was an escape. For her artist  husband Kit, it was a dream. For their small twin boys, it was an adventure. For sixteen-year-old Sacha it was the start of a nightmare.
They end up on the isolated east coast of the North island, seemingly in the middle of a New Zealand tourist campaign. But their peaceful idyll is soon shattered as the choices Sacha makes lead the family down a path which threatens to destroy them all. Martha finds herself facing a series of impossible decisions, each with devastating consequences for her family.
This book is going to be very difficult to review as I don't want to give the plot away but I have to stress that it was a fantastic read.
Martha and her family move to New Zealand because Kit, Martha's husband is drinking heavily after seeing his company collapse. New Zealand offers him a chance to pursue his painting ambitions and offers Martha and the children a new life on the other side of the world. Sacha is Kit's step-daughter and a doting sister to her twin half brothers, Charlie and Finn. The move to New Zealand affects Sacha in a way that none of them saw coming and her actions put her whole family in danger.
We know at the beginning of the book that Finn has had a fall; he has a head injury and lies in a coma. Martha has explained that it was an accident but her inner thoughts, expressed in the book, suggest otherwise.
Charity Norman flits back and forth between the past and the present. We learn of the events leading up to Finn's fall and the then the immediate aftermath.
The plot is extremely intriguing, I really couldn't decide what had happened and Charity Norman keeps up the tension and mystery throughout.
Sacha is a difficult character and I still haven't decided what I think about her. I felt so much empathy for Martha though as the book really made me question how I would react to my own daughter in the same situation. There were times when I could really feel Martha's desperation to make everything right and her fear that it is all out of her control.
After the Fall is a particularly gripping read. I have Charity Norman's first book sitting on my shelf so I am really looking forward to reading more by this great author.

Dot Scribbles Rating: 5/5

Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of the book to review, After the Fall is out now.

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