Born in a prison and removed from his drug-dependent mother, rejection is all that 7-year-old Alex knows.
When Cathy is asked to foster little Alex, aged 7, her immediate reaction is: Why can’t he stay with his present carers for the last month? He’s already had many moves since coming into care as a toddler and he’ll only be with her a short while before he goes to live with his permanent adoptive family. But the present carers are expecting a baby and the foster mother isn’t coping, so Alex goes to live with Cathy.
He settles easily and is very much looking forward to having a forever family of his own. The introductions and move to his adoptive family go well. But Alex is only with them for a week when problems begin. What happens next is both shocking and upsetting, and calls into question the whole adoption process.
What does TWG think?
Receiving an e-mail from the lovely Jasmine Gordon from HarperNonFic, asking if little ol’ me wanted to review Cathy Glass’ new book, just happened to be one of THE most surreal moments…EVER. Of course I was shocked, it’s CATHY GLASS. I have been a HUGE fan of Cathy’s for as long as I can remember and seeing as I already have a few of her titles in my small (COUGH LIE COUGH) book collection, I jumped at the chance to review Cathy’s brand new novel, Nobody’s Son. I’m a little bit late with my review as it was released a month ago (I did read it on time!), I do apologise. Hopefully my review will make up for the lateness, but, be warned, this book will not be reviewed the same as fictitious books. I am not a foster carer, nor have I been directly involved with the subject itself. Therefore, how can I review this book on its ‘storyline’, ’emotional value’, ‘writing style’, when it is based on real life events? I can’t. So I won’t. Instead, I will review Cathy Glass’ novel from my heart, and my heart only.
I read ‘Nobody’s Son’ in one day. Now, before you think I’m bragging about how quickly I read books, I’m not (even though I do read them quickly). I was determined not to put Cathy’s book down until I had found out what happened to Alex, because I felt like I would be letting him down by not reading his story. Maybe that sounds daft, I don’t know. Or, maybe it’s my maternal instinct reaching out, into the storyline. I had to give him and his story my time, and the only was that I was able to do that, was by reading his journey from start to finish.
When Alex turned up to Cathy’s house and seeing how her children interacted with this little boy, made my heart swell. Cathy’s two children came across as such selfless little bundles, with hearts made of gold. Yes, they may have been used to foster children coming and going from their home and having to see their mum share her love, yet those two children could have been the complete opposite and bounced around like little firecrackers. They could have though, couldn’t they? But they didn’t. After settling in his new, temporary home, Alex’s personality began to shine like a beacon, as his enthusiasm and joy at knowing the next home he would be living in was going to be his ‘forever home’, was quite similar to a child being in a sweet shop. And, to be honest, could you blame him? The poor boy came into this world in such heart breaking circumstances, obviously (and luckily) blissfully aware as he was too young to understand, and now he was so close to having people who love him and want him. It really isn’t too much to ask really, is it?
Now, we all know that the best laid plans aren’t always as straight forward as we would like to think; the foster care system isn’t exempt from that either. Have you ever felt your heart swell due to reading something incredibly touching, being overcome with such love and emotion towards people who you don’t even know; just to have the rug pulled from under you and your happy bubble popped? If any of you are sitting and shaking your head to that question, I want to know your secret behind keeping yourself out of harms way. Hell, I can’t even walk from one room to another without causing myself pain. But the thing is, this is life and as adults we become more accustomed to pain and how to approach it; yet as children, really? Children are resilient, we all know that; but when a child’s life comes crashing down yet again, everything just…stops.
My reaction to the storyline changing direction along its journey, caught me off guard, and immediately I felt incredibly, incredibly guilty. Why? Because it wasn’t me that was going through that pain, it was Alex. I can’t even begin to imagine what pain that little boy felt, or what thoughts entered his mind. Cathy painted a pretty vivid description of the domino effect surrounding Alex and everyone involved, so I was able to guess what Alex may have been thinking at that time. Truthfully, could you blame him? Cathy Glass is, as we all know, a well-respected foster carer, and yet I wanted to give her a big hug too. What Cathy and her family went through at the same time, on an emotional level, was incredibly hard to read as I could see every single person’s reactions in my head. As I mentioned above, I am not a foster carer, nor have I had any involvement in that particular system, however, the circumstances surrounding the care system left me feeling physically sick.
Cathy Glass writes in such a delicate yet black and white manner as she describes each turn of event the way it happened. No fluffing around it. No patting the children on the head going ‘there there’. No hiding behind the cracks in the system, nothing; Cathy told it how it was. My respect for Cathy went through the roof due to her honest and heart-felt descriptions of such a heart breaking circumstance. You know what surprised me even more? Cathy’s writing was held up by logical thinking and not by emotion. Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely clear that Cathy’s emotions were incredibly raw (and rightly so!), yet she didn’t let her emotions rule her head. Instead, she knew what she had to do and she did what she could for the happiness of one boy, and one boy only. Alex.
After I read ‘Nobody’s Son’, I went to have a little read of the reviews that had already been posted on Goodreads. Now, whilst I am one of the first people to say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, (especially where reviews are concerned), something in a couple of those reviews caught my eye and for Cathy’s and Alex’s sake, I need to say this..
Since when has a novel, written about real life events and emotions and based on real human beings, been ‘too emotional’? OF COURSE it’s going to be emotional! The events within this book, actually happened! It’s not the story of a made up character called, ‘Phoebe’, who lives down the road and broke up with her boyfriend after he didn’t want her to nurse him and his broken leg. IT’S REAL LIFE.
I cried so much whilst reading ‘Nobody’s Son’, it really was hard to keep my emotions under the surface.
Cathy Glass has written such a beautiful, beautiful book that is full of both heart breaking AND heart warming moments. It’s also full of courage, strength, trust, family; a lot of things that we take for granted in our individual lives. I wish I could do more, but I am just glad that Alex had someone like Cathy Glass in his corner.
Thank you for opening my eyes to a topic often seen as ‘taboo’. Thank you for telling me about the raw, devastating events that a lot of people would have kept to themselves. Thank you for telling me Alex’s story, I really hope he’s happy now.
Thank you Jasmine Gordon and HarperNonFic.