All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Don’t Let Me Go – Susan Lewis

on March 14, 2013

Don't Let Me GoDon’t Let Me Go
Susan Lewis
2013, 456p
Copy courtesy of Random House AU

Charlotte Nicholls is keeping a secret. With 3yo Chloe they are building a new life for themselves in an idyllic and isolated part of New Zealand. Charlotte had to get Chloe away from the terrible things she experienced and the little girl remains deeply traumatised. She clings to Charlotte, needing her presence for security. Slowly she has begun to accept members of Charlotte’s family – her mother Anna, stepbrother Rick, stepsister Shelley and Shelley’s almost-teenage daughter. But Chloe still has fear of most men and even Charlotte’s stepfather, the affable and gentle Bob strikes fear into her and she has not yet been able to bond with him.

The months have gone by and Chloe has begun to adjust to her new life, making friends at her playgroup and stretching her wings without Charlotte’s constant presence. They begin to feel safe in their new home, like they can finally relax. But when a misunderstanding leads to someone looking to get rid of Charlotte, the world she has carefully constructed for herself and Chloe comes crashing down around them.

They are separated, hauled back to England. Charlotte is arrested and Chloe put back into state care, the one thing that Charlotte didn’t want for that little girl, who she knows will become so traumatised at having the only stability she has ever known taken away, that she may not recover. Charlotte has to fight, to prove to the community that although what she did was wrong, that she did it for the right reasons and that she deserves a second chance.

I feel as though I should mention before I launch into my thoughts on this one that this story, Don’t Let Me Go is a continuation of another Susan Lewis novel, entitled No Child Of Mine which details how Charlotte and Chloe come to be in New Zealand. I didn’t know that before I read this one, in fact I was nearly finished when I found out. I think that this novel can be read stand alone, it does provide you with most of the information that you require but for a deeper understanding of the relationships and the horrors that led to their flight to New Zealand, it might well be worth checking out that book first.

This book is written in way to wring emotion out of the reader and it does so admirably. From the moment you meet Charlotte and Chloe you can’t help but feel so dreadfully for that tiny girl. It takes a little while for the full picture to unfold of what has happened to her for a reader coming into this one without the benefit of having read No Child Of Mine but you know she is so deeply traumatised that it could only have been the worst thing your mind could conjure up. As a mother, this book hit me so hard and made me so deeply sympathetic to Charlotte and made me want to stand up and fight with her to protect Chloe. This book makes no apologies for what Charlotte has done, she herself doesn’t either. She did what she thought was best and having seen the way that Chloe blossomed, it has to be argued that what she did was right even if it was not entirely legal.

The welfare of children under the protection of the state is a strong thread in this book and I know that situations in Australia are most likely just as dire as they are described in England in this book. The whole departments are under funded, under staffed and overworked. It’s hard to find people to take in children, especially older ones. Kids get bounced from home to home, trying to find one that fits for both of them, which is what happens to Chloe in the second half of the novel. Already mute without Charlotte and believing that she has been taken away from Charlotte because she has been naughty and is being punished, Chloe is moved from one unsuitable home to another, further deepening the heartbreak and trauma she has experienced. It’s a clear case of how the law can actually work against the very person it’s supposed to be protecting and make things worse when really it could have made things better. This was definitely a book I became emotionally invested in, more and more as the story went on. I was invested in both Charlotte and Chloe’s story, both when they were together and separate because it wasn’t hard to see that they truly needed to be together.

This was a very powerful and well told story – it sucked me straight in and I read it in an afternoon, reluctant to put it down even to eat! I don’t recall having read Susan Lewis before but given her impressive backlist, it’s entirely possible I have in my university years when my books were supplied solely by my Nan and what she passed on. These sorts of books sound exactly like what she likes to read and I’ll be recommending she buy this one, if she hasn’t already. It’s such a compelling book and I particularly loved that the first part of it was set in New Zealand, which is not a setting I tend to see very often. It made the most of New Zealand’s beautiful landscape and rich history, incorporating Maori traditions. It really did seem like the most perfect place for Charlotte and Chloe to try and begin to heal.

I enjoyed this book a lot – it was hard to read in places but I think it dealt well with a very emotional and sickening topic. I’d definitely be interested in tracking down No Child Of Mine. Even though I know the basics of the story, I’d like to see how it all began.


Book #66 of 2013


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