The book’s first chapter is headed ‘Three Months After’, so we know that something terrible has happened, but we can’t be sure what. It then travels to ‘Thirteen Weeks Before’ and we are introduced to Liv and her family just as things change. Her parents argue, she has problems at school, her brother is autistic, and all the time we have the knowledge that something is going to happen. As an adult it becomes obvious, probably sooner that it would to a teenager, that Liv’s mother is dying. The clues are all there: the short temper, the hushed conversations, the shopping trip to buy a bra that Liv has no need for.
This book has all the potential to be mawkish and clichéd and yet it isn’t. The portrayal of Liv as a teenager is objective and sensitive, giving her that authentic mix of self-centred view of the word and the love she has for her family. We walk with her through excruciating events and misunderstandings, to the realisation that her mother will not get better and watch how she prepares for that,then reacts to her death.
This is a beautifully written story that manages to avoid the obvious and yet tugs at every emotional string available. I may be an old cynic, but I was frequently swallowing moved to tears. A great read that realistically and unsentimentally describes the loss of a parent.