All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Emma’s Baby – Abbie Taylor

on August 25, 2010

Emma was a happy, carefree young woman with a degree, a job she didn’t much care about but a job nonetheless, friends, a nice flat and a social life. She’s travelled, spending a year in Sydney after finishing University, been for a holiday to Europe with her friends from University. All this changes when she finds out that she’s pregnant. Having been in denial for several months, she’s five months gone before she realises that she’d better start dealing with it. The father has left her, gone back to his ex-girlfriend and her flatmate wants to move in with her boyfriend. Their lease is up in one month and Emma must find somewhere to live.

We find all this out in flashback as the book starts with Emma and her 13 month old son heading home after a day out. Ritchie is tired and restless and wants to hop out of his buggy (pram/stroller/pusher/etc) and walk for a while. He’s wearing a little harness so Emma thinks nothing of lifting him out and standing him on the train platform with her as it pulls into the station. She helps Richie onto the train before attending to getting the buggy and herself on when the doors close on her. She is left holding Ritchie’s leash – he standing inside the train, her on the platform. As the train begins to move, she begins to run after it, saved from being pulled down after it by a thoughtful gesture from a bystander, tackling her to the ground and yanking her out of harms way before the train can rip her off the platform and down underneath it. Desperately Emma gets the next train to the next stop where a kindly looking older woman (who was on the previous train in the same carriage as Ritchie) is waiting with him. She is so relieved to have him back, so thankful, that she can barely speak. The woman takes her for coffee, surreptitiously taking control of everything. Encouraging Emma to go and wash her face from where she was hurt being tackled to the ground, Emma does so. When she returns, the woman – and Ritchie – are gone.

From there Emma is catapulted into a nightmare. The police are called and are at first, skeptical if she is even the mother of a child. When it is established that she has a son, they are less inclined to believe that some snatched him and more likely to believe that she has harmed him herself. Only Rafe Townsend, the young man who tackled her to the ground at the platform, believes her. He calls to return her bag, which she left behind with him when she caught the next train and asks if there’s anything he can do. He’s a former police officer and he lends her his assistance and more importantly, some support.

Support is something that Emma sorely lacks. She is 100% doing this alone. She has no family, her friends have drifted away, caught up in their own lives and not interested in hers now, she had to leave her job, she lives alone with Ritchie in council-type housing. She sees no one, does nothing except spend her days with Ritchie. Although he wasn’t a particularly difficult baby, she is slowly being worn down by the monotony of it all, the routine, the sheer mindlessness. She is a woman who is basically, crying out for help and doesn’t receive it. She tells her GP that she has frustration and anger and pent up aggression and that she has thought it might be possible that she would harm Ritchie. Her GP does absolutely stuff-all about this until the police come knocking for background information on Emma and Ritchie’s medical records, and then she tells them. Instead of helping her get some support and possibly some medical assistance, (all her GP does leave a note for a social worker but the social worker is on leave at the time, something the GP doesn’t chase up). So her cries for help go completely unanswered and even though she doesn’t actually do anything to harm Ritchie, all this does is make the police think she’s completely out of her tree and has probably killed her kid and stashed him somewhere.

I’m not a single mother and in fact, I’ve had it pretty easy. I’ve got a partner who was pretty willing to do 4am feeds, to change nappies, to settle and soothe and to take the baby and say to me ‘go to bed, you need sleep/go outside and get fresh air/go shopping and get out of the house/etc’. Despite this, I did feel for Emma and her isolation. I live interstate from my family, my partner does work long hours several days a week, and during busy times for him, can work 7 days a week for 10-12hrs a day. I don’t have friends with small children down here, and I can spend a lot of time alone with my son. I get the frustration. I get that every day can feel like Groundhog Day and that sometimes you just want to scream. You want to put them in a little box and put that box on a shelf and go out and have a life for a while and then come back and get them out of the box. But life doesn’t work like that. I can’t imagine that extra step, what it must’ve been like for Emma, to have absolutely no one. I think it would be very very easy to start to slide a dangerous slope of depression in that situation. And it’s only surprising that she didn’t start to crack up sooner. Abbie Taylor did a brilliant job not only describing that but making you feel it. And the way she wrote Emma’s grief when Ritchie is taken, her guilt at having felt like she has failed him as his mother, her despair is real and poignant without verging into overdone. The frustration when she isn’t believed. There are a few incidents in the book where you have to suspend disbelief and just go with it in the name of the story, but overall it’s a pretty good novel. What makes it is just how well Taylor nailed that description of a lonely single mother.

8/10

(Book #55 of my 75 Book Challenge)


4 responses to “Emma’s Baby – Abbie Taylor

  1. Ree says:

    You know, this book sounds amazing…but I can only find the Kindle edition on Amazon.com and Doubleday Book Club doesn’t seem to have it either. Ugh!

  2. Maybe one to try The Book Depository for?

  3. […] great or what’s horrid about a book.  One of my favorite posts of hers is a review of Emma’s Baby by Abbie Taylor.  I’ve not yet been able to snag a copy of this book, but I so will.  As soon as I find […]

  4. Elena says:

    I just saw this book at my local book store and wanted to buy it desperately. But, I was not sure I could identify with the whole mother issue, although I am obviously human and can understand the longing and the frustration. Thanks for the review!

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