Huge thanks to the wonderful Simon and Schuster team for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Alice Peterson and ‘If You Were Here. Also, many thanks for the ARC. Here is my review:
When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world.
Five years later, Flo is engaged and moving to New York with her fiancé. Peggy never told her what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk.
As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: if a test could decide your future, would you take it?
What does TWG think?
If you could look into the future to find out how your life would pan out, would you do it? Honestly, I don’t think I could even answer that. Life is full of surprises, however if you knew what lie ahead of you, would you feel more confident about dealing with the negative things if you had warning?
Flo is faced with that very decision. Should she take a medical test to find out whether she is likely to succumb to the very illness that took her parents away from her? Before reading Alice Peterson’s latest novel, I had heard of Huntington’s disease but I didn’t quite know how devastating it could be. Just like many illnesses, it isn’t a one size fits all as many sufferers react differently to the symptoms and challenges they face.
Told as a dual narrative, ‘If You Were Here’ tells the story of Peggy and her granddaughter, Flo. Peggy finds out something which could like a fuse under her granddaughters life and, instead of biting the bullet and being honest with her, Peggy keeps that information to herself because she doesn’t want to hurt someone she loves dearly.
I could see where Peggy was coming from to an extent, however I could also see where Flo was coming from because it wasn’t up to Peggy to withhold that vital information about Flo’s health, from Flo herself.
The family dynamics and secretive notions, are very emotional and intense. It was incredibly difficult to form a solid opinion on the characters actions, having not endured what they have, yet finding a way to be empathetic is such an important mindset to have whilst reading this.
Alice Peterson writes stories about characters who are dealing with things that no-one hardly ever talks about. If the subject is likely to be seen as taboo, Alice Peterson is straight in there, bringing her characters personalities to life with such dignity, courage, poise and realism.
Getting to know Peggy and Flo was an absolute joy, however I was undeniably bereft when their story ended. I have a feeling that their emotional journey will stay with me for a long while to come, and I cannot wait to read another beautiful, uplifting novel from an author who knows, and understands, the power of empathy and emotion when it comes to hurdles involving illnesses.