Into My Arms
Allen & Unwin
Uncorrected proof courtesy of the publisher/The Reading Room.com
Skye is an artist, working at a primary school to create a mosaic when she meets Ben. It’s like nothing she’s experienced before and Skye isn’t exactly a stranger to impulse behaviour. But everything with Ben is different – the pull, the attraction that they both feel towards each other seems to trump everything else in their lives. Skye ends her two year relationship in order to be with Ben when it became obvious that all she wanted was to be with him. For a while they experience perfection together – everything is easy, everything is blissful.
Until it isn’t.
What happens next neither of them could have ever imagined. Both of them are wiped out by their discovery and the subsequent separation. Ben quits his job and disappears and Skye retreats back into her art as she prepares to welcome in changes to her life. But she isn’t the same person anymore, she’s not there like she used to be and neither is Ben. They both have a long way to go before they can begin to get over this and accept the hand that life and fate has dealt them both.
But it’s impossible to stay away forever and when their paths cross again, Ben and Skye have to renegotiate their boundaries. Into My Arms is a powerful novel that tackles a controversial phenomenon It’s about love, it’s about obsession, it’s about finding your soulmate, that one person you’re supposed to be with and having it all go hopelessly wrong. It’s about the power of family and the ties that bind and bring people back together, even after the most terrible secrets have broken them.
This is Australian author Kylie Ladd’s third novel and those who have read her previous work will be familiar with the way in which she tackles relationships. In After The Fall, she chose friendship and how it and marriages were splintered apart by infidelity. In Last Summer she explored the way in which a tight group of friends dealt with the tragic and sudden loss of the larger than life character that glued them all together. And in this book, well, I can’t tell you exactly what she delves into because the reveal is an intricate part of the storyline and best uncovered as you move through the narrative. Some readers will guess before the reveal, some will not but it doesn’t matter. Either way, this story sucks you in and holds you in its power.
When Skye meets Ben, she’s already been in a relationship with Hamish for several years. It’s satisfactory to her and she already knows she’ll say yes if and when he proposes. But all of that is blown away by her feelings for Ben, which surge up immediately upon meeting him. The connection between them is so tangible it should almost be visible, binding them together. Skye moves away from her life with Hamish, towards a life with Ben without a backward glance and the two of them embark on a journey together that’s cut short in the most devastating of ways. I love the way in which Ladd brought them together so passionately and then wrenched them apart.
This is such a clever book from beginning to end. It’s also a book that tells you the ending that you can’t have, rather than the one you can – what you don’t know is how it will resolve. Although Skye and Ben are separated, some time down the track they are brought back together when one of them needs help from the other. I have to wonder what happens to these characters after the book ends. I know a book has really resonated with me when I find myself pondering the fate of characters of books I’ve read when I’m doing menial tasks. I found myself thinking about Skye and Ben a lot and how much it would be possible for them to embrace their new relationship.
Ladd has already written two well received books and has won admirers for her deft style in really rounding out her characters and the way in which she embraces a gritty issue and strips it bare. I think that for me, this could be her best work to date. She embraces more, such as a foreign location and peripheral characters such as Ben’s family who don’t appear in the novel too much, but who are nevertheless just as well written and fleshed out as the main ones. She gives the reader space to come to terms with what she’s portraying and also a little bit of time to think. I remember when I finished After The Fall I wanted to sit down and ask her a specific question about the last page (which I later did when I was fortunate enough to meet her at an event that raised money for charity) but this novel makes me want to sit down and ask her a dozen questions. And that’s not a bad thing at all, quite the contrary. It’s the testament to the strength of these characters and how they’ve ingrained themselves in my mind and how I want to know more. I want to read more.
Book #100 of 2013
Into My Arms is the 43rd novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013.