Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"The Cuckoo's Child" by Margaret Thompson

Livvy Alvarsson has not had an easy go of the adult life.  In her forties, she has faced the devastating and debilitating disappearance of her 4 year old son eleven years earlier.  There was never any clues and the police finally had to call off the search with Daniel never being found.  Eleven years later Livvy still feels the profound loss.  And now she's facing another loss.  That of her beloved younger brother to cancer.  Hoping she can be his bone marrow donor she is shaken to the core to find out that there is no way that she can.  Now she no longer even knows who she is and with only a clue of a gas mask with a partial name and a life changing secret revealed she sets off from her community in British Columbia, Canada to a search in England.

I don't know what originally drew me to this book, the cover, the title, the description or the fact that the author is Canadian.  Maybe all of the above.  But I really was captured by this story.  It's a story of profound loss and grief, but also one of love and family, restoration and acceptance.  It gripped me from the very beginning as Livvy starts her story in the form of "conversation" with her beloved brother, holding his hand as he lays unconscious dying from cancer.  As she talks to him and unburdens her heart,  her story starts to unfold and it is absorbing in the way she speaks and the way she puts it together.  The writing is beautiful.  You go through her life with her, the joys and excitements and then the deep despair of trying to find the lost child.  Livvy bears the full brunt of feeling guilty as Daniel was with her when he disappeared and you go with her through the difficulties and the search and then the effects on her marriage and trying to move on with life.  When the horrific secret that is revealed when her brother becomes ill you wonder how she will hold up under the news.  Her search for family history brings into her life a handful of interesting characters, some that bring some lightness to the story so even though the story was very sad in parts it was lifted by these moments of wonderful characters, but also a character that makes you determined never to become like that.   It shows the devastating effects of unforgiveness and hard heartedness and religion gone to merciless extremes.     The story and the style and the prose was so engaging I could not put it down.  Amidst the heaviness, the author beautifully weaves in through Livvy's voice the joys of life and family, the strength of a committed marriage, and finding hope to go on until the story comes full circle.

Linked with Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books


Faith said...

oh Susanne! this sounds just like one I would LOVE!! btw....i should have messaged you on FB, but I sent you the Sheila Walsh book on Monday...please let me know when you get it as i didn't pay the extra for insurance :) ENJOY!

nikkipolani said...

I like a great story, but when it's also beautifully written as you've described, it's got extra appeal. Another one for the TBR pile! Thanks. I think.