Monday, 9 December 2013

Review of In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes

Review by Cathy White
Rating: 5 stars

This book burrowed deep inside me, stayed with me, gave me nightmares. Fortunately for me – unlike Jude, who the novel centres around – I woke up from my nightmares.

Jude is six years old when she finds her mother dead from an overdose, along with a note that reads, "Jude, I have gone in search of Adam. I love you baby." 

This is the last time anyone tells Jude they love her. On Jude’s tragic roundabout, we trace her childhood as she grows up in a seaside town through the 80s with a raw vulnerability and a life a world away from sticks of rock, donkey rides, lycra and legwarmers.

In Search of Adam is a book without love, about a child without love. The cruelty, physical and mental abuse Jude receives is so unremittingly relentless you want to reach into the pages and make it stop. You especially want to reach in and punch out her neighbour’s brother. Oh, and her dad. And her’s dad’s girlfriend, Rita. You want to say ‘Hey Jude, take a sad song and make it better’, but the only thing that could make it better would be for her mum to come home with Adam.  Jude eventually discovers her mother’s diary where all is revealed but it’s not something Jude had ever anticipated.

Caroline’s writing style in this novel isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, as the short, stilted, child-like sentences echoing the pattern of Jude’s fragmented thoughts take some getting used to. But. You do get used to it. It. Just takes a bit. Of time. Caroline’s vibrant writing makes this novel a worthwhile compelling read and, ultimately, unforgettable.

Cathy White was born in London and in a previous life held a variety of jobs including legal secretary and literary agent’s assistant. In 2009, she left the city for the sticks, emigrating to the Kent countryside where she lives in an 18th century ex-bakery with her boyfriend and cat. She blogs at www.cathywhite.co.uk, www.jog-blog.co.uk and www.planetveggie.co.uk.

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