Today it’s back to Mandie for a review of Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen, an emotional rollercoaster of a tale brought to us from Orenda Books. If you’d like to read my take on the book, you can find my review right here. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
When Rachel’s baby is stillborn, she becomes obsessed with the idea that saving a stranger’s life months earlier is to blame. An unforgettable, heart-wrenching, warm and funny debut.
Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that “everything happens for a reason”, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results… Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.
Everything Happens for a Reason is a very emotive book as it details the life of Rachel as she tries to understand why her son was stillborn after carrying to term. A mixture of emails that she writes to her son Luke to detail events that take place and her interactions with some of the people she writes about it gives a very different perspective to how grief affects people. Despite the subject matter this is not a book that focuses solely on her grief. There are moments that will make you smile as even Rachel finds things that take her by surprise but give her focus and much more it gives her hope.
I have never experienced what Rachel did so I can’t say how I would react in such circumstances, but I did have to tell my sister I was pregnant just as she had suffered a miscarriage and it was a conversation I dreaded at the time. As I read her emails I could see how easy it was to get caught in the cycle of trying to find out why it happened when even the Doctors could not give her answers. There were times that I felt a little frustrated with her as her determination to contact the person she believed was at the centre of it all did at times blind her as to whether it was a good idea or not. After all she knew nothing about them and the covert way in which she inserted herself in their lives was not the best way to go about things.
I can understand her frustrations with her family who at times appear a little insensitive to what Rachel is going through, with invitations to baby showers and constant updates of the new arrival and if it had been me I am quite sure I would not have dealt with it all in quite the same restrained way that she did at least in person anyway. During these times I think the emails helped her face things with her family as she was able to pour her true feelings on the page.
I both listened to and read the book and I think that the writing style and the emails really do lend itself to audio as it is almost like a diary with each email the next entry. Whether you have experienced such loss or not I think that this is a book that everyone should read as it may just give you a different perspective of loss and grief that so often is brushed aside as it is just too uncomfortable to deal with.
About the Author
Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’. Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.
Books by Katie Allen
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