You, Me and Him by Alice Peterson
|You, Me and Him by Alice Peterson|
|Genre: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Josie discovers she is expecting a baby. But her six-year-old son has ADHD and she is unsure whether she can cope with another child. Her relationship with her husband is rather rocky too...|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: June 2007|
|Publisher: Black Swan|
Josie and Finn's marriage has been going through a stressful time, although they very much love each other. It doesn't help that their six-year-old son George has ADHD and is extremely difficult at times. They love him dearly, but their lives (particularly Josie's) have been disrupted since his birth, and although Finn wants another baby, Josie isn't sure at all. Then she discovers that she's pregnant, and panic sets in.
Finn is a successful doctor. He's very good-looking, and also a great father who understands his son well - except that he's often too busy to spend time with him. He is frequently late for family events, or can't make them at the last moment. Then Josie becomes resentful and Finn becomes defensive.
There's another man in the picture, too. Clarky, Josie's childhood friend, lives nearby and is George's godfather. He's the first person she turns to when anything worries her, as he's sympathetic, caring and warm; at times she finds herself comparing Finn with him negatively, wondering if she should have married her best friend rather than the man she fell in love with. Finn and Clarky don't much like each other.
The book takes place over the nine months of Josie's pregnancy, with a lot of flashbacks to the past - mostly to the time when Josie and Clarky lived together in a platonic friendship, and when she first met Finn. It's very well-written, with the glimpses into the past melding easily with the main narrative, and gradually building up more of a picture of the three-way relationship Josie is struggling with.
It's not often that I fall in love with a book within the first few pages, but it happened to me with this one. The story is told in the first person by Josie, and I found myself relating to her strongly, right from the start. She's totally honest about her feelings, her worries for the future, her confused emotions when she thinks about her son, her anger with Finn and her reliance on Clarky. It's also clear that Finn's irritation with Clarky, which verges on jealousy at times, is entirely reasonable.
I did wonder if there was going to be an 'agenda' to the book, pushing acceptance of ADHD, with lots of detail about possible causes and treatments. Clearly the author knows a great deal about this condition, but I thought she managed to avoid pushiness, while undoubtedly educating. George is a likeable, intelligent lad who knows that his brain doesn't work like other children's. We see him trying to behave, but unable to concentrate; forgetting what he has been told, throwing tantrums, fighting his way out of trouble - and being rejected and bullied by other children. We see the negative side of school for such children, with a most unpleasant class teacher, but thankfully she is balanced by an excellent new headmaster and a swimming teacher who recognises George for who he is, and helps him in ways he understands.
I certainly felt that I understood ADHD a bit better by the end of the book, but I didn't feel that the knowledge had been thrust down my throat, for which I'm thankful. I also saw how easy it is to deceive oneself by self-righteousness - both Josie and Finn do this at times - and how even a small lie can grow into immense proportions and threaten a relationship. So it wasn't the average light chick-lit; instead it was quite thought-provoking, often moving, and very satisfying to read.
I did nearly deduct a half star because my one slight complaint about the book is that there was rather more bad language than I'm comfortable with, and some of it seemed unecessary. But that does seem to be a trend in modern books, and most people aren't worried by it. So five bookbag stars from me, and I look forward to reading more by Alice Peterson.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending this book.
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