When 17-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother’s best friend, “Aunt Sarah,” that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn’t her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.
Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family’s deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.
Someone Else’s Life is a book that I liked in spite of the protagonist and not because of her. Rosie is a bit of a drama llama and prone to histrionics. And while I wonder how I’d react to finding out that my real (deceased) parents weren’t my real parents, it didn’t give Rosie a license to act like a complete selfish ass. Which she did.
My problems with Rosie started mid-way through the book, when I genuinely started to dislike her. While she tried to explain some of her behavior away as altruistic, in actuality many of her actions were incredibly self-centered and motivated by what SHE wanted with little regard to the lives she was affecting. I get that she had some rough luck and I understand looking out for number one, I do, but it doesn’t excuse her treatment toward the people whose lives she’s interfering in, not the least of whom is Andy, who has been around Rosie her whole life and only wants to help her. Poor Andy. He’s great and helped to balance out Rosie’s abrasiveness for me.
That said, I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like the book, because I did. There was a lot to like. It was really well-written with lots of twists and turns. Every time you’d think everything was all figured out, something else would come along and add another kink to the story. Eventually I stopped trying to figure out what was going to happen, who was who, etc. and just went with it.
The book is a bit of a door stopper at almost 500 pages but there was little “extra” stuff that could have been cut. Literally, there were just so many surprises and twists that I don’t really know how the book could have been any shorter and still been effective at telling the story.
Overall I found it to be a really impressive debut. This is a stand-alone book (yay!) but I’d definitely be up for reading more books by Katie Dale in the future.