Someone Else’s Life – Katie Dale
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2nd February 2012
One secret can change everything.
When Rosie Kenning’s mother, Trudie, dies of Huntingdon’s disease, her whole world falls apart. Not only does Rosie miss her mum, but now she has to face the fact that she may have inherited the fatal disease herself. Until she discovers that Trudie wasn’t her biological mother at all...Rosie is stunned. Can this be true? Is she grieving for a mother who wasn’t even hers to lose? And if Trudie wasn’t her mother, who is?
But as Rosie delves into her past to discover who she really is, she is faced with a heart-breaking dilemma – to continue living a lie, or to reveal a truth that will shatter the lives of everyone around her...
I’m not entirely sure where to start with Someone Else’s Life. While I appreciated and enjoyed its complexity and emotional intensity, it annoyed me more than I loved it.
Someone Else’s Life is extremely clever. Interspersed between the chapters detailing Rosie’s story are unnamed chapters from the point of view of a character who’s identity we don’t know of. At first, I was completely in the dark. Then I thought it might be her birth mother or maybe even Rosie from before her mother got sick. I was wrong and I was glad to be – it was rather genius, actually. For me, this was one of the strongest aspects of Someone Else’s Life.
It was probably the characters that stopped me from fully enjoying Someone Else’s Life. Rosie really annoyed me. I understood that she was confused, angry and hurting in unimaginable ways, but the way she treated some of the people around her was bordering on awful, especially Andy. An incredibly sweet guy who’s willing to support you through the toughest time in your life blindly and help you in every way you can deserves treasuring, not continually abandoning. I just couldn’t understand how she made the same massive mistake over and over again, well, I could, I just didn’t understand how she couldn’t see what she was doing.
The protagonist of the chapters I mentioned earlier turned into a major component of the novel, turning Someone Else’s Life into a dual narrative, in fact. And I didn't like her either. It would be very difficult to explain exactly why without giving anything away, but she was moody, vindictive and frankly, a bit of a bitch. I mean, she like Rosie had reasons, but it still put my back up. it’s hard to get too emotionally involved with a novel where the two main characters annoy the hell out of me.
Katie Dale saves herself with style, intrigue and cleverness. Someone Else’s Life deals with lots of issues that pose a strong moral debate and the characters response to these situations inspire serious discussion – I couldn’t even begin to imagine making some of the decisions they had to make during the novel. On top of these thoughtful and often deep dilemmas, Katie Dale kept me on a wave of drama. Poor Rosie barely had a moment of down time and I could hardly take a breath between dramas.
I also learnt a lot about something that I knew very little about beforehand: Huntington’s disease. I knew it was degenerative and incurable but that was pretty much it. I now have a much clearer understanding of just how devastating a disease it is for both the sufferer and their family. having your life turned so completely upside down like Rosie’s is unimaginable and I really hope that they find a way to manage or even sure it soon.
While I had some pretty serious problems with Someone Else’s Life, Katie Dale’s style and intelligence is enough to make me want to read more of her books in the future.