Monday, 21 October 2013

Just Like Other Daughters

Author: Colleen Faulkner
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Kindle e-book Advanced Reading Copy
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Kensington Books
First Published: October 29, 2013
First Line: "I lost Chloe twice."

Book Description from GoodReadsAlicia Richards loved her daughter from her very first breath. Days later, when tests confirmed what Alicia already knew--that Chloe had Down syndrome--she didn't falter. Her ex-husband wanted a child who would grow to be a scholar. For Alicia, it's enough that Chloe just is.

Now twenty-five, Chloe is sweet, funny, and content. Alicia brings her to adult daycare while she teaches at a local college. One day Chloe arrives home thrumming with excitement, and says the words Alicia never anticipated. She has met someone--a young man named Thomas. Within days, Chloe and Thomas, also mentally challenged, declare themselves in love.

Alicia strives to see past her misgivings to the new possibilities opening up for her daughter. Shouldn't Chloe have the same right to love as anyone else? But there is no way to prepare for the relationship unfolding, or for the moments of heartbreak and joy ahead.

With grace and warmth, Colleen Faulkner tells an unflinching yet heartrending story of mothers and daughters, and of the risks we all take, both in loving and in letting go.

Disclaimer: I sincerely thank Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  Since October is Down's Syndrome Awareness Month I thought that this book was very apropos and quickly requested to review it from NetGalley.  While I do have one distant cousin with Down's, I don't have a lot of firsthand experience with people with Down's and thought that this book may be a good way to enlighten myself.

This book successfully balanced educating the reader about all that Down's Syndrome entails (the good, the sweet and the frustrating) but it never felt like it was teaching and came off as very real and heart-felt. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that the story is told through the eyes of Alicia along with little snippets from Chloe's viewpoint.

The characters were what sold me on this book.  Alicia was a believable character and I loved that.  While she could be frustrating at times I could also relate to her misgivings and hesitancies involving letting her daughter grow up.  She and I are cut from the same proverbial parenting cloth.

Alicia was an imperfect protagonist.  She has always been Chloe's biggest, and often only, advocate.  Sure, she did things that I didn't agree with at times but underneath it all you knew that she loved her daughter.  I think it was her struggles as she comes to terms with Chloe's relationship with Thomas that really got me on board.  She's just a woman doing the best she can. 

Some of her fears are (to me) well-founded based on how Chloe deals with her daily life.  We see Alicia struggle on a daily basis with Chloe's outbursts and people staring and judging Chloe before they've even spoken to her.  Chloe is very sweet young woman who adores Disney movies but she's also very head strong and prone to temper tantrums.  Alicia's misgivings and concerns were things that I could see myself having in the same situation.  Alicia adores her daughter but that doesn't make living with her or letting her become more independent any easier for Alicia. 

Chloe is a sweet, innocent yet stubborn young woman and she felt very real to me.  She just wants to be treated like everyone else and I loved getting her view of certain events as the story progressed.  Sometimes her point of view was just a little snippet showing her view of a certain scene that we'd just seen through Alicia's eyes.  That addition of Chloe's feelings and view of the situation really helped me to get to know her and maybe rethink how I felt about some of Alicia's actions.

The secondary characters held their own and felt very well-rounded and not segregated to the outer edges of the main storyline.  I loved seeing how Randall, Chloe's father, struggled with his feelings about Chloe's Down's.  Not everyone in her life was able to accept her fully and I appreciated the fact that the author didn't sugar coat it.  He was not the perfect father by a long shot but I think he was, sadly, realistically portrayed.

I would have liked to have heard more from Thomas' mom and dad and how they felt about their son's relationship with Chloe.  Thomas' mother, Margaret, was the most frustrating person in the book for me.  I'm not sure if she was in total denial, just overly optimistic or saw a way for herself and her husband to get some time to themselves but she came off as believable even though I wanted to shake the woman out of her floral frocks a few times.

I have very few negatives about this book.  The main issue I have is that I felt that the ending was much too abrupt.  I would have at least have preferred to have an epilogue to see what happened to the characters later on.  I also found the breaks between Alicia's point of view and Chloe's could have been separated a bit better.

Overall I enjoyed this book.  Although it was a slower paced book than I was expecting I found it to be a very touching read that will, no doubt, help to educate people to the day to day realities for people with Down's and those who love them.


My Rating: 3.5/5 stars


Shelleyrae said...

A great review, I thought this was a wonderful read and I agree with you about the abruptness of the ending.

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks ShellyRae. :)

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