Book Review: The Good Mother by Sinéad Moriarty

About the Book:

The Good Mother

Kate has been through the fire with her three children …

Having been left devastated and homeless after her husband’s affair and the break-up of their family, somehow she has pulled through. Though times are still tough, she’s beginning to see the start of a new life.

But when twelve-year-old Jesssica is diagnosed with cancer, Kate’s resilience is put to the ultimate test. She has an eighteen-year-old son consumed with hatred of his father, a seven-year-old who is bewildered and acting up and an ex-husband who won’t face up to his responsibilities. And in the middle of it a beloved child who is trying to be brave but is getting sicker by the day.

Kate knows she must put to one side her own fear and heartbreak and do right by her children, particularly Jessica. But maybe doing the right thing means doing the unthinkable?

My Thoughts:

Sinéad Moriarty brings us a thought provoking and heart wrenching story of love, loss and family. Kate, mother of three, is forced to deal with the break-up of her marriage. Her husband had an affair and moved out, deciding to marry the other woman. The first part of the story shows us how Kate and the children cope with this, the impact this has on the children, and how they all pull together to support one another.

The bonds between the siblings is very strong, and even though they act out in different ways, they come together to support their mother through this time. Jessica, the middle child of the three and the only girl brings a childish charm and a level of maturity that is common among children who are forced to grow up too soon. However, in her, this just makes her more likeable, and everyone’s rock. Her older brother has a more difficult time dealing with the family break-up, as he looked up to his father more than anyone else. His support system are his sister and his girlfriend, who becomes a very integral part of the family and the story. The youngest, hardly knows his father, and is confused most of the time, acting out in any way that only children can.

The beauty of the plot is that the author portrays her characters in shades of grey. There is no right or wrong in this, things just happen, and after a point, you accept that and try to move on. Forgive, learn and move on, but it is not necessary to forget. The story moves at a steady place initially, painting a picture of Kate’s life, her coping mechanisms, and the support she gets from her father. The plot thickens when Jessica, who is absolutely healthy, suddenly takes a turn for the worse, and is later diagnosed with cancer.

In reality, unless you have had to deal with such a situation by yourself, it is not easy to relate to the shock, pain and horror of someone having cancer. The author has brought out the feelings and emotions very well, making sure that the reader is able to understand them. We are taken on an emotional roller-coaster afterwards, as we follow Kate and her family as they deal with the cancer. The way it affects everyone and how Jessica deals with it form the crux of the later half of the story. There is a lot to learn from Jessica, who though a child, has an “old soul” and wisdom that goes beyond her years.

The final question that this book prompts is this: Would you love someone enough to let them go? and, if you do, can you live with the truth? These questions are food for thought and this well-written story is a gripping read to the end.

Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction by Dan Malakin

About the Book:

Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction

An apocalypse of fish.

The politics of holding open an office door.

A man wakes to find a secret vagina in his armpit.

All this and more in SMILING EXERCISES, AND OTHER STORIES!

Each story is 1000 words or less, perfect to start the day/end the day/enjoy on the toilet/put off that suicide for another three minutes.

This collection includes two stories shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, as well as others first published by Litro, decomP, Word Riot, Mad Swirl, Cricket Online Review, Everyday Fiction, Metazen, Space Squid, nthposition and many more great magazines!

My Thoughts:

This is perhaps one among three or maybe four books that I have read that is in this style of writing. I was swept away by the concept of flash fiction and the stories. They are indeed short and to the point. The entire plot is put out there in 1000 words or less and it is simply amazing. It’s quite difficult to write stories this short and convey the entire message.

Many of the stories are thought provoking, some are horrifying and some will just bring a smile to the face. The stories will bring a myriad of emotions into the mind of the reader. This book is a quick read, but it can also be read slowly, one story a day or however is convenient. The author has a brilliant way of writing and sometimes the reader will need to pause and think about what they have read.

The author has mastered the art of crafting and delivering these thought provoking, everyday events turned into short stories which are a delight to read. There are many a story that I am sure the reader will be able to relate to. This is definitely worth picking up!