Book Reviews

[review] Someone Else’s Life – Katie Dale

Release Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House)
Pages: 512
Format: Hardcover
Source: Finished copy from publisher

When 17-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother’s best friend, “Aunt Sarah,” that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn’t her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.

Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family’s deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.

Tell Me More: I love drama as much as the next person. I scream a little bit when revelations~~ occur in my favourite shows and I get invested in (relation)ships more often than I probably should. But when it comes to books, I find it more difficult to suspend my disbelief. It’s my brain picturing the events and not a camera crew with mad editing skills. Unfortunately, Someone Else’s Life didn’t hold up very well to my own eye.

I’ve been told that the writing style is similar to Jodi Picoult’s work, but since I’ve never read any of her books, I can neither confirm nor deny that claim. What I did find was that Rosie’s story was extremely melodramatic, and at times, it sunk into soap opera territory. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the resulting predictability of the story did not please me.

The first half of the novel was confusing and felt a little rushed, while the second half seemed to turn into a sea of molasses, the revelations so few and far between. While I understand why Katie Dale used split POVs to tell the story, I think the story would have been stronger (and much shorter) had she stuck with Rosie. She was the only character that actually felt real to me, whereas the others seemed hollow. The dialogue didn’t help either, as I found I could predict what certain characters would say before they said those things. Rosie’s stubbornness and indomitable spirit were wonderful to witness, but as the book went on, they were overshadowed by the weak story structure and writing.

What would I have loved to see? The gravitas of the situation. We’re told over and over again that it’s so important for Rosie to find her birth mother, that the secret of her birth is one that will destroy families. I never felt that urgency. The characters glossed over the consequences too easily. In the end, it felt like Dale just tied everything up with a pretty pink ribbon and everyone lived happily ever after, the end. That HEA wasn’t earned, in my opinion. Yes, the book is quite long, but length doesn’t matter if a story is well-told.

The Final Say: Inconsistent character development and a melodramatic plot are discoveries that I wasn’t happy to find in Someone Else’s Life, but if you’re looking for an intensely emotional story, this might be the book for you.

Be sure to visit Katie Dale at her website and follow her on Twitter @katiedaleuk.

You can check out Someone Else’s Life on Goodreads and order it from The Book Depository.

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