What if a tragedy occurred and you only had yourself to blame? How do you move on from the past?
Alex Foster lives a quiet life, avoiding the home she hasn’t visited in eight years. Then her sister Jaime calls. Their mother is sick, and Alex must return. Suddenly she’s plunged back into the past she’s been trying to escape.
Returning to her hometown, memories of the tragic accident that has haunted her and her family are impossible to ignore. Alex still blames herself for what happened to her brother and it’s soon clear that her father holds her responsible too. As Alex struggles to cope, can she ever escape the ghosts of the past?
Since securing the top prize in a widely-publicised UK writing contest, Anouska Knight has become an international sensation with her debut novel, Since You've Been Gone, hitting both The Bookseller and Heatseekers bestseller lists and securing praise from the likes of Jackie Collins and Jenny Colgan.
A former bakery owner, she has gone on to wide acclaim in her native England and now writes full-time, currently on her next novel for Harlequin Mira.
Anouska lives in Staffordshire close to the countryside where she grew up, with husband Jamie, her childhood sweetheart, their two growing boys and new baby son. When she's not writing or wrestling small children, she can still often be found baking and will whip up a cake at the drop of a hat if asked nicely.
I was given an ecopy of this book via Netgalley from Cara Thompson at Mira, Anouska Knight's publishers in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy todo.
Wow, where do I start. Letting You Go is an emotionally charged novel that at times is quite raw. Alex avoids home at all costs, she hasn't been home for eight years - all because of the fall-out from a terrible tragedy. When Alex gets a call to say her mother has had a stroke and is seriously ill in hospital - there is no choice she has to go back.
This is a story about families, love, friendships and small time communities. About secrets, lies and what-if's. Alex was young, in love with Finn her boyfriend and preparing for University when her life was torn apart - shattered by a terrible accident. Dillon, Alex's youngest brother drowned whilst she and Finn were supposed to be watching him. Alex's father blames her and Finn, jumping to conclusions about the reason they didn't see Dillon get into trouble in the water. Finn did try to save him but it was too late. It seems that there is no way forward, nothing can ever right the situation so Alex chooses to stay away, not knowing how to make things better for her family - in particular her father, barely a civil word passes between them.
Families are complex and there is often more going on in the background than is visible at face value. It certainly turned out to be in case in this story. Dillon's death impacts not just on Alex but on the rest of her family and the local community, everybody is linked in some way. Like many small towns the community is close knit and the various families and their lives are interwoven. Alex soon learns that guilt and grief are not just hers to own, her time away has shielded her from the impact not just of Dillon's death but of her estrangement with her family and her fiends. It seems many lives have been affected and nobody has quite perfected the art of moving forward and living life to the full.
This is a book that gained pace the more I read, as the secrets, hurt and anguish were first avoided, then confronted head on. Life isn't easy, there isn't a rule book and everyone did their best to cope in the only way they knew how. But, once the cracks started appearing, the facades they had constructed crumbled leaving their hearts and emotions exposed for all to see. Anouska Knight takes Alex and her family to hell and back, she really has created characters that will grab you, each and everyone real and engaging. My heart crumbled so many times but I still had to turn the pages to find out what happened next. An altogether uplifting story emerged and hammered home the fact that we all grieve in different ways and for different lengths of time but with the knowledge of love from family and friends, trust, communication and sometimes a still tongue life will eventually get better.
Anoraks has demonstrated in this beautiful knowledge that it is possible to live through grief, but then allow the happy memories to come to the fore using them as an anchor to hold tight to.
Thank you Anouska for a beautiful book that emerged from a very dark place. A book that shows there can be light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I loved it.