Sunday, 16 May 2010

Book Review: BEFORE THE STORM BY DIANE CHAMBERLAIN
















BEFORE THE STORM BY DIANE CHAMBERLAIN

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published by: Mira (May 2010 UK)
Mira (June 2008 USA)

Pages: 480 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8.5/10

The UK book cover is on the left, the USA cover is on the right. I much prefer the US one.

About the Book:

Her little boy has been accused of murder. How far will she go to protect him? When the local church is razed to the ground, dozens of trapped children manage to escape - many helped by 15 year old Andy Lockwood. Born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Andy is more like a little boy than a teenager, but in the eyes of the people he saved, he's a hero. Laurel lost her baby once through neglect and has spent the rest of her life determined to make up for her mistakes. Yet when suspicion of arson is cast upon Andy, Laurel must ask herself how well she really knows her son - and how far she'll go to protect him.

Diane Chamberlain has been called the Southern Jodi Picoult and certainly there are similarities, for instance each chapter is narrated by a different character, and family relationships are explored in depth. However, while I have read and didn't particular warm to Jodi Picoult's books, I have to say that this story really captivated me.

The first chapter was narrated by Andy which I thought was inspiring as straight away we got a feel for his character and how he thinks and feels about his family and his circumstances. I instantly warmed to him as he joined all his 'friends' in the church for the evening and tried to talk to a girl he was attracted to by telling her that he loved her. The boy she was with talked down to Andy and he was confused as he thought everyone was his friend. Then the fire starts and panic sets in inside the church.

As the story continues we see through Andy and his family's eyes the police investigation into the arson attack and family secrets long buried start to surface. Laurel, Andy's widowed mother thinks that Maggie, Andy's sister, is happy and content but does she really know her as well as she thinks she does and why does Laurel blame her husband's brother, Marcus, for his death? All the while she is trying to protect Andy while her world turns upside down and people start to turn against her.

I thought the characters were well-defined, particularly Andy, and I would recommend this if you're looking for a read that's not too light, but thought-provoking.

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