Following a family barbecue on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Naomi and Alex are driving home when they are involved in a fatal car crash – Alex suffers from broken bones, Naomi almost dies, and is left with no memory, and a young nine-year-old girl is knocked off her bike and killed. To make matters worse, Naomi’s sister Suzanne insists her younger sibling had been drinking too much, and shouldn’t have been driving.
The story starts at the barbecue, and is told from alternative points of view – Carmel, Naomi’s mother, and Naomi herself. Carmel is convinced her daughter would not have driven when drunk, which puts her at odds with her oldest daughter, who can’t forgive Naomi for what she’s done. During her parts of the story, we also learn about her own background, as well as insights into the sister’s relationships.
Naomi’s part is told from when she first wakes after the accident, dealing first with physical issues, and then the emotional ones. This for me was one of the strengths of the stories, being with Naomi as the full weight of the accident bears down on her.
I have to admit that for me, the first half of the story was the weakest – the accident didn’t have the impact I expected it to, and I couldn’t connect that well with Carmel as she reflected on her early life. I was glad I stayed with it though, because the second half had me enthralled. I had an idea at this half way stage as to where the story may go, and I stayed up far to late to finish the book and find out if I was right.
Cath Staincliffe takes instances which could happen to any of us, and takes us into it’s depths – you can’t help but wonder how you would feel and respond in the same situation, and characters are real and believable. Her experience as a script-writer also shines through – this would work brilliantly as a TV drama, and I would love to see it brought to life.