A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself. On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all. Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe” Muhammad Ali
This book is receiving lots of praise at the minute and rightly so. It’s an emotional and gripping read that captures you from the beginning and keeps up the momentum until the end. Like the water that forms a backdrop to Louise’s writing the book has an uneasy undercurrent from the start that had me waiting for something to happen. The level of unease and safety would ebb and flow, so one minute you’d think everything was ok and then things would change again.
The accompanying blurb, pretty much tells the background to the story, but the story as it unravels reveals so much more. Both Bernadette and Conor are damaged souls that seem to recognise themselves in each other. Despite their age difference, they form a bond that will ultimately save them, but not before those bonds have been tested.
The story is told from the viewpoints of Bernadette; through the case notes in Conor’s ‘Lifebook’ and through Conor himself. Consequently for Conor we have a pretty much warts and all picture of Conor’s life which does not make for pretty reading. His has been a pretty bleak life spent between time in care and unsuccessful foster placements due to the inability of his mother to cope. What is sad is that this is probably the reality for too many children who are left to the vagaries of the system. It is heartbreaking to see blossoming relationships forged and then broken, placements made that prove unsuitable leaving a vulnerable child just wanting to be secure, cared for and loved.
Bernadette herself, wants pretty much the same things, after 10 years of marriage to a man who has his own demons. Theirs is an unhealthy marriage not based on trust and love, but fear and control. Her relationship with her parents is also fractured as growing up she never really bonded with them. Maybe this is why she recognises a kindred spirit in Conor, and fights so hard to get him back when the unthinkable happens.
This is a story well told, with realistic characters and a gripping plot. It explores the nature of relationships and the damage that bad ones can cause. But ultimately it offers hope and redemption through the love and support of others, whether they be family or friends.
I’d like to thank Karen at Orenda Books for kindly providing an ecopy of the book for review purposes.
Available from Amazon.co.uk