Released: 2nd February 2012
Publisher: Simon&Schuster Children's Books
Challenge: 2012 Contemporary Challenge
When seventeen-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty-per-cent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when she tells her mum’s best friend, ‘Aunt Sarah’ that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie was not her biological mother after all... Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, hitching along on her ex-boyfriend’s GAP year to follow her to Los Angeles. But all does not go to plan, and as Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply-buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonising decision of her own - one which will be the most heart-breaking and far-reaching of all...
The main thing I felt when reading this book was pity. Masses and masses of pity. I just felt so sorry for everyone involved because the whole situation was such a MESS and whilst it felt extreme, the thing that caused it, 2 babies being switched at birth, was so minor, done so thoughtlessly, that it felt utterly real.
Poor Rosie. As if she didn't have enough to deal with after her mum's death but then to have the added shock of finding out she wasn't actually her mother...her reaction to the news was totally realistic. She went out, she got pissed and she made a few poor choices as a result. I'm pretty sure I'd've done the same thing in her situation. That's what I liked about Rosie--the things she did were what you'd imagine yourself doing in her situation. At times her decisions were frustrating and yet, when you stepped back, you knew you'd probably be doing the same thing. Holly's reactions were a bit more extreme and yet again, utterly realistic. You could see how she totally felt screwed over by everyone in her life, how it seemed as though Rosie had waltzed in and taken everything good out of her life, leaving her with awful revelations that Holly struggled to deal with. I liked all the other characters too, even the ones with more minor roles. They all felt really fleshed out and had distinct roles to play.
I loved the switched POVs and how they linked up...I didn't actually expect the second POV to be who it was, I totally thought it was someone else but that was a really clever aspect and I liked seeing the other side of it. The writing was engaging, emotive and really got to you. The pacing was fantastic, I found myself racing through this to get to the conclusion.
I did actually know about Huntington's before reading this (Thirteen is my favourite House character) but the thing about this book was it made you think. Would YOU want to know if you had a chance of developing an illness like this? Or would you choose to live your life in ignorance? Would you have kids, knowing there's a 50% chance they'd get ill too, and you'd die before you could see them grow up fully?
The only criticism I have is that some elements were a little bit dramatic for me. I read most of this in one sitting and found myself getting slightly...overwhelmed by it. It's the sort of book you WANT to read in one sitting because you need to know what happens but at the same time I wish parts of it had been toned down slightly. Especially all the stuff with planes at the end. I also disliked the fact no one seemed to have an issue with hopping on a plane to the other side of the Atlantic at the last minute...are they all made of money?
A fantastic example of contemporary literature, Someone Else's Life is fast-paced, gripping, thought-provoking and emotive.