My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days
Pages - 427
Publisher - Black Swan
Blurb from Goodreads
Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie.
Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion.
Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.
The book opens in present day, Maisie Bean is about to do a talk and she is feeling nervous. She takes the reader back to the past that shows us how she got to where she is and why she does what she does. She has two beautiful kids who have their own issues after watching their mother survive and abusive relationship. They live with Maisie and her mum whose illness provides more stress and strain on the family. Her youngest is moody, argumentative and trying to find herself and Jeremy is the apple of everyone eye, sixteen but responsible, kind, caring and trustworthy. This is what sends everyone into a panic when he doesn't come home, the media get involved and things from the past won't stay buried.
McPartlin has a style where she can hit some very dark and unsettling topics but still infuse the story with humour and provide light relief which I think is an amazing feat for an artist. The characters you immediately warm to, or hate pending on which ones we are talking about. She whirs up a storm and covers many issues in life that the reader can identify with or at least one of them. Friendship, love, domestic abuse, sexuality, homophobia, media scrutiny, personal growth, family secrets, the list goes on and on whilst not overstretching the story or realism.
I could have easily read this in one sitting had time permitted, you are drawn in within the first few chapters and I gasped out loud at least once. A very talented writer, I have read her before and I will read her again, I think her writing gains strength with age and experience, 4/5 for me this time.