Katie Dale’s debut novel, Someone Else’s Life, is an absolute roller-coaster of a read, filled with more twists and drama than I ever expected. Katie Dale is a ‘winner’ of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices Anthology which publishes some of the best un-agented/published work by authors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (British Isles).
When Rosie’s mum, Trudie, was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, Rosie’s entire life changed. She took care of her mum to her death and even worse than this, spent the entire time knowing she could have inherited this same disease.
After her mother’s death she learns an even more shocking truth: she is not Trudie’s biological daughter. Trudi’s ‘real’ daughter was incredibly ill at birth and going to die so a family friend, Sarah, swapped the baby for Rosie, who had been abandoned by a teenage mother.
Devastated and curious about her ‘real’ parents, she joins her boyfriend Andy on a gap year to America to find them. Obviously, Rosie is dealing with the grief of Trudie, but I felt like she wanted to find her ‘real’ parents so quickly after finding out. That said, if I was the same position I am pretty sure that would be one of my instant reactions.
The relationship between Rosie and Andy was great. When the novel opens, we are introduced to them as estranged after Rosie distances herself following Trudi’s illness and as the novel progresses their spark well and truly rekindles. I just loved the two of them together as they felt so natural together and you really end up rooting for them.
Without wanting to spoil the many unexpected twists I encountered in Someone Else’s Life, I will say this: it’s a book where you are just swept along on an incredibly powerful and emotional journey where what you expect to happen often doesn’t.
When a novel deals with a plot like this, it can be really easy for it descend into a soap opera with flat 2-dimensional characters, but Someone Else’s Life doesn’t fall into this trap at all. The characters are complicated, relatable and well fleshed out. The fact that in a debut novel, this topic has been so well-handled makes me exceptionally excited to see Katie Dale’s future work.
Most importantly this is a novel about family. What I loved was that Dale made the excellent point in the book that family is about more than blood, it’s about who raises you – this is something I personally feel very strongly about, so I loved seeing this in a book.
I was able to read this novel through NetGalley as an e-galley ARC and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity Random House Children’s Books presented me with. This was truly an excellent and highly recommended read.
Someone Else’s Life is released February 2nd in the UK and on the 14th in the US.