No Child of Mine is the latest novel from Susan Lewis, and in my opinion, it is her best so far. It’s compulsive, addictive reading and is a book that is virtually impossible to put down. It is traumatic, at times as it explores the harrowing field of social work that deals with child abuse and neglect. As well as that though, it is a moving and powerful story that grips the reader from the very first page.
Alex Lake, a social worker, is the central character and she is dedicated to her work. She also has a great deal to cope with in her private life, being an adopted child of parents that she has always felt did not love her quite as much as their natural daughter, Gabby. Both parents are now dead and Alex was not included in their will perhaps proving that how she felt about them was true. Luckily, she has her wonderful boyfriend, Jason, although he does come complete with three children who are most unwilling to accept the new woman in their father’s life.
Her work fills her days but it’s hard not to become too involved with the children she works with. This is particularly true in the case of Ottolie, a cute but virtually silent little girl, who on the surface seems well cared for. However, Alex feels a great deal of unease about Ottolie’s obstructive father and her acutely depressed mother. She doesn’t want to think the unthinkable but she also cannot ignore all of the warning signs. Unfortunately, she needs to gather proof before she can act on Ottolie’s behalf, but there is a danger that this will take too long. How far will Alex go to protect this beautiful yet fragile little girl from the worst possible type of abuse?
I’ll not reveal any more of the plot, but I hope this gives a flavour of what an absorbing read ‘No Child of Mine’ is. I was caught up in the lives of Alex and all her charges from the very first page and found the backdrop of the world of child protecting both fascinating and heart breaking at the same time. I loved the way Alex became involved in her cases and, although this is only fiction, it made me feel great respect and admiration for those who do this job for real.
The characters are very real and I thought that Alex made a fabulous central character. She has a great deal to put up with and I did feel sorry for her at many points during the story. Not least when she is hurled abuse by some of the parents on the estate she visits and especially when her car is attacked whilst she and her colleague are in it. Many of the families that she deals with would not be out of place on the Jeremy Kyle show and would be quite comical if they did not mirror many real life families.
Overall, I thought that No Child of Mine was a wonderful read from start to finish and a book that left me feeling really moved. I’ll admit that there were a few occasions in the story that found me reaching for the tissues but that was all part of the enjoyment. I often say that I find it difficult to put good books down, but in this case it was virtually impossible. No Child of Mine is a beautifully written book that is sad, happy, harrowing and intriguing. It’s the perfect read!
No Child of Mine by Susan Lewis
Published by Century, July 2012
With thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy.
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