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Review: The Missing Pieces Of Us by Fleur McDonald

on March 29, 2017

The Missing Pieces Of Us
Fleur McDonald
Allen & Unwin
2017, 313p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Lauren Ramsey was adopted at birth. Now a teacher, her mantra is to never let a child fall through the cracks. But she’s so concerned about the welfare of a little boy in her kindy class she doesn’t notice that her teenage daughter needs help.

At fourteen, Skye Ramsey is on the cusp of womanhood, but she’s also teetering on the edge of an abyss. Battling with the usual pressures faced by a teenage girl, including the pitfalls of social media, she’s flirting with outright rebellion.

As a child, Tamara Thompson felt unloved and overlooked. She’s now the manager of a successful business and has a partner who adores her, but her fear of rejection is threatening to overwhelm her.

All three women are searching for a happier future, but the answers may lie in shedding light on secrets from the past.

From the bestselling author of Red Dust and Crimson Dawn, comes a moving and intriguing novel about love, friendship and how the truth can set us free.

This is Fleur McDonald’s first foray away from rural romance/fiction and into the broader genre of women’s fiction or ‘life lit’. I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few of her other books and so I was quite looking forward to this one and seeing where it went.

It introduces the reader to three women: mother and daughter Lauren and Skye Ramsey as well as Tamara Thompson, the manager of a local clothing store that Skye often likes to shop in. Each of the three are struggling with something. Lauren is a teacher and concerned about a young child in her class at school as well as an itchy spot on her arm. Skye is 14 and facing the pressures and stresses that friends and boys bring and Tamara is given news that she’s not quite sure how to cope with. It could also offer the chance of a new beginning with her mother, if she can let go of the past.

The core ideas are all quite good – as a pale redhead, I can relate to Lauren’s concerns about her skin, especially when she discovers a new spot that itches. She’s also a full time teacher of a busy kindergarten class and has two children of her own, the youngest of whom, Skye, is going through a bit of a ‘difficult’ stage. Connecting with Skye has become harder and harder for Lauren and at times she seems to often compare Skye to her oldest child, who is more easygoing.

Tamara is a really interesting character and at first it’s not really entirely obvious why she’s included in the story. But she has clearly had quite a hard life – many years ago she was given an opportunity to turn things around. She took that opportunity and now likes to pay it forward and so when she sees a chance to help someone else she takes it. It brings Tamara into Skye’s life in a more intimate way and because of that, into Lauren’s life as well.

And here is where I started to have a bit of a struggle with this book. I found that it was honestly, the sort of book where I ended up saying to myself “What are the odds?” several times because it’s linked together by either connections or events that are somewhat well, a bit of a stretch. I was able to guess where it was going quite a long way before it got there as well and I think that made it lose some impact and just seem a bit too orchestrated and unbelievable.

There are some serious issues tackled in this book so it’s unfortunate that it didn’t really feel as though they were explored with the depth that they could’ve been. Lauren’s diagnosis offered a lot of chances but most of what occurs, occurs off the page. That was probably deliberate but at the same time it made me feel like I wasn’t really a part of what was happening, it was all vague and left me feeling disconnected from it. I get that it brought up Lauren’s desire to connect with her biological heritage and that was quite a focus of the story but she was going through something quite alarming and a lot of it felt a bit glossed over.

But ultimately it was the way that things seemed to come together so neatly and effortlessly that I had the most problem with. So much seemed so coincidental and easy and not just the things about Lauren’s heritage. There was also a lot with Skye, her teenage daughter, that seemed quite easily fixed. Skye ends up becoming involved in a bit of a scandal and quite a lot of the fallout is glossed over as well and her relationship with Lauren seems to be magically improved.

This was just an okay read for me – some good bones but the execution felt weak and contrived at times and there wasn’t enough focus on some of the meatier issues.


Book #57 of 2017

The Missing Pieces Of Us is book #18 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017

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