It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson, published by Agora Books on 21st June – thank you to Lucy for the beautifully thought out “care package” (with tissues and chocolate) that accompanied the paperback I received, and for the reading e-copy provided via netgalley. Has everyone now discovered Agora Books? The digital publishing arm of literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, you’ll find them on Twitter and Instagram too – and their enthusiasm for this book was highly infectious, and so totally justified.
What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?
All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.
Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.
That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?
A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?
I was so incredibly impressed by this book – a debut novelist, seriously? As a depiction of raw grief and its impact on a family, I’ve rarely read better. The writing is exquisite, the book perfectly structured in the way it counts time in days since the loss of daughter Phoebe that tore their hearts and lives apart, followed by an abrupt shift twenty-five years into the future with the impact still reverberating, those long-held secrets still hidden and deeply buried. Mother Linda is superbly drawn – you may not find yourself entirely in her corner (the way she treats daughter Esme is painful to watch), but you certainly feel for her, very deeply, for her pain is palpable and really, really hurts.
The claustrophobia of a family drowning in grief is quite stifling, the only real lightness in the wonderful relationship between father Tom and daughter Esme – their exchanges perfectly written, touching the heart. I particularly loved the making up of stories, those magical moments of escape from life’s realities. So he’s a wonderful husband and father? Perhaps not quite perfect – but as the story unfolds he might just be the parent that you keep closest to your heart.
The second half of the book surprised me, and could have been a wrench – but it really wasn’t. I loved seeing the family after years had passed, and the whole was wonderfully hopeful and up-lifting. The narrative device of letters from Esme to her sister was simply perfect – and the whole book left me with joy in my heart and a (rather tearful) smile.
Heavens, I know I’m really not doing this book full justice, and that’s so frustrating – the writing is exquisite, every word so carefully chosen, wonderful story-telling, and the story itself tears you apart. Do read it – I know you’ll love it too.
About the author
Laura Pearson lives in Leicestershire with her husband and their two children. Missing Pieces is her first novel.