Friday, 13 September 2013

Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner: The Review

Just Like Other Daughters
by
Colleen Faulkner


 Title: Just Like Other Daughters
Author: Colleen Faulkner
Publisher: Kensington Books
Release Date: 2nd December 2013 (Paperback)
Formats Available: Paperback, Ebook
Buy This Book: Amazon


Alicia is a fifty year old woman who has spent the last twenty five years of her life caring for and loving her daughter Chloe, who was born with Down syndrome. Alicia has made her life about making Chloe happy and making sure she always does what is best for her. But when Chloe meets Thomas, a young mentally challenged man, at her daycare centre and insists she is in love, Alicia is unsure what to do. She had never envisioned Chloe growing up and having a romantic relationship with somebody, had never even considered it. How can her daughter, who can not be left home alone or who can't deal with simple tasks like sorting dark and light clothes, really understand the complexities of romantic love. Alicia must struggle with what she believes is right for her daughter and what Chloe feels and wants for herself. 



I'm not even sure where I can begin with this book. I just want to grab someone, anyone and tell them to read it, to explain to them why I loved it so much. But it's half eleven at night so I will have to write about it here instead. I LOVED IT! I was unsure at first, struggled at times but ultimately this book won my heart completely and I need to explain why.

I'm going to start by explaining some of the reasons why I loved it so much. Alicia is a big part of that. She could definitely frustrate me, I wanted to reach into my kindle and strangle her at times; I found myself disagreeing with her occasionally; the things she was saying, doing, thinking. But that was part of the reason I loved her so much; she was real. She felt like a real person, talking to me, sharing with me; like you were having a conversation with someone not just reading a narrative. Her thoughts and feelings felt so genuine, I could relate to them and felt that if I were in her situation I would feel the same. She made mistakes and she could be stubborn but I've never met anyone who isn't. She felt so real to me that I wanted to meet her, to hug her, to comfort her and tell her not to worry so much, she's doing an amazing job and she's an amazing mother. I loved her internal struggles with Chloe's relationship with Thomas and all the reasons she had for being uncomfortable with it.

The secondary characters in this book didn't fade into the background which I felt was really important. There's nothing I hate more in a book then it being full of one dimensional secondary characters that I struggle to connect with or feel any emotion towards, good or bad. So another reason that I rate this book so highly is because I cared for, laughed with and cried for the other characters in this book, not just Alicia. Jin, the caring, funny, smart next door neighbour who is always there for Alicia when she needs someone to talk to. Randall, the literature professor and and ex-husband who has struggled with accepting Chloe for who she is since she was born. Chloe, who the author provided with a few parts of the story from her perspective so that you could better understand her thought process, what she was thinking and feeling at times when it really mattered. She loves Disney movies for one; how could I not love her when she is a girl after my own heart? I even enjoyed secondary characters like Minnie Wellson who ran the daycare centre and Thomas' mother Margaret because of how often I wanted to slap her for being so cheerful and positive even though she never seemed to really think about a situation. 

It's hard for me to pick out my favourite part of this book as I grew to love it more and more as it went one. I think the end may just win it though because of how emotional it made me feel for good reasons and bad reasons. I can't even describe the sensation I got reaching the end of this book; I was sad because it was over, that my time with Alicia was over and I really didn't want her story to end. I wanted to be able to sit down and drink a good few bottles of wine with her and talk things through like she does with Jin (which is a feeling I don't often feel with most books)

The more emotional and sadder scenes were written so well. I felt the emotion in every sentence and it would really choke me up at times. This book made me care; it had me laughing one minute and crying the next and at times even both at once. When Alicia goes in to detail about the way she had thought of killing Randall and burying him in the garden had me laughing so loudly at my kindle I'm sure I looked crazy.That's what I look for in a book; I need it to make me care. If I'm not emotionally invested in the characters then I don't feel the book was worth my time. I can't remember the last time I read a book that had me as emotional as this one did, that had me caring so deeply for the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed how much this book had to teach me; you could tell that Colleen Faulkner had put a lot of time and energy into research. I must admit to knowing very little about Down syndrome and this book taught me a lot. I was not aware that women with Down syndrome have a lower rate of conception. Nor did I know that fifty percent of all Down syndrome people are born with a heart defect.


As I have listed all the reasons I loved this book, I feel it is only fair I right about the ways I didn't like it. The story started off really slowly and events that unfold nearer to the end of the book I felt should have been introduced around the halfway point or just after as it would have been more interesting to read about Alicia's thoughts and feelings on the matter in depth. But this book did keep me guessing and definitely surprised me at times. 
             The story seemed to almost stall at times and didn't grab my attention and make me want to keep reading but thank goodness that Alicia did. She was such a strong character and voice that I needed to see where life was going to take her and how she was going to deal with it.. So that got me through the parts that didn't grab me as much as I would have liked. It also jumped from one scene or setting to another so fast that I almost couldn't keep up at times with who Alicia was talking to from one sentence to the other.
              The end; not that I didn't care for the ending but that I would have loved an epilogue set a few years in the future. I really wanted to see how Alicia was coping with everything that life had thrown at her, I needed to see how she was doing.


I believe I may have found a new author to watch out for. I love authors like Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain and I must admit this had the same kind of feel to it. I would definitely recommend to anyone who liked any of the following:


House Rules – Jodi Picoult

Before the Storm – Diane Chamberlain

Three books I thoroughly enjoyed that also show the relationships between mentally challenged children and their parents.

4/5 Stars

Prepare to laugh and prepare to cry, whether it be tears of joy or tears of sadness. This is a book that will make you care, that will pull you in and make you fall in love with Alicia and feel all her emotions right along with her. It has been quite some time since a book has made me care quite so much and I hope you can find the same enjoyment I did from this book and if you don't I would love to hear why.



*I received a copy of this novel from the author/publisher/publicist via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.


 

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