After the Fall by Charity Norman
Paperback, 366 pages
Expected publication: 3rd January 2013 by Allen & Unwin
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My thanks go to Allen & Unwin for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
There are so many things that I would like to express about this book, but it is difficult. I'm writing this review quite some time after finishing it, yet the story and the characters still linger in my mind. I didn't have any expectations for this book - I hadn't read a book by this author before and hadn't read any reviews for her books. I read the blurb and it appealed to me, so I gave it a go. I had no idea that I would enjoy this one so much.
As you may know, I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan and love the ideas behind her books. As soon as an author is compared to Picoult, I immediately do want to check them out, but I also have a sense of wariness - those are big boots to fill! Thankfully, Norman was one of those authors who certainly lived up to the comparison. The storyline of this book contains so many issues that are explored in a very interesting way. I also didn't find the book predictable - there were a lot of characters and so there could have been so many different outcomes. Though this book is aimed towards adults, I am sure that there will be a lot of young adult book readers will enjoy this one too.
The book mainly revolves around Martha, the mother of Finn, a boy who has been involved in a very serious accident at their home in the middle of the night. Only Martha knows what really happened - neither we nor the other characters in the book know what truly happened to cause the boy such severe injuries. After reading about the consequences of the accident, we learn more about how Finn came to be in that position.
The story moves back and forth in time, following the Martha, Finn and the rest of the McNamara family who have recently decided to move from England to New Zealand. I can't recall reading a book set in New Zealand, or at least not one that introduced me to some of the cultural Maori influences and traditions - I enjoyed discovering more about this culture which I previously didn't know all that much about. I was initially concerned that I would find all of the information a little tedious or overwhelming, but that wasn't the case at all. The story was mostly based around the characters and their emotions, which is what I really enjoyed.
The characters in this book were very complex and very real. I really came to like the characters, though I did feel suspicious of all of them at the beginning as I didn't know what had happened to Finn - like I've said, it is hard to predict what had happened or who to trust. There is such a history behind all of the characters, especially Martha's husband, Kit. Kit was one of those characters that just felt so solid and genuine - he was imperfect and this only added to his authenticity. Finn's twin brother was so sweet and did act like a true child - the bod between him and his brother was certainly something special. Finn's older sister, Sacha, is a feisty, troubled teenager and plays a huge role in this book, being the only member of the family who firmly dislikes her new home in New Zealand. Her emotions were very strong and came through fantasitcally well. The supporting characters were also fantastic, stabilising the story and adding an extra element to it.
Overall, I think that you can probably tell that I loved this book! A book that leaves you thinking about it for weeks afterwards is definitely an effective read. This is a perfect read for any time of the year, especially if you want something that isn't difficult but has a good amount of substance behind it. Perfect for Jodi Picoult fans. I absolutely can't wait to read more of Norman's work!