What an achievement! Massive congratulations to Cathy Kelly on the publication of her 20th novel, The Family Gift. Huge thanks to Tracy for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Orion for the ARC. Here is my review:
Freya Abalone has a big, messy, wonderful family, a fantastic career, and a new house.
But that’s on the outside.
On the inside, she’s got Mildred – the name she’s given to that nagging inner critic who tells us all we’re not good enough.
And now Freya’s beloved blended family is under threat. Dan’s first wife Elisa, the glamorous, manipulative woman who happily abandoned her daughter to Freya and Dan’s care and left the country, has elbowed her way back into their lives.
But Freya knows that when life gives you lemons, you throw them right back.
What does TWG think?
With ‘The Family Gift’ having a bit of a slow, uncertain start to it, I wasn’t sure whether the storyline was going to have enough to keep me hanging on. Why did I want to know about a woman who was struggling to deal with her emotions? Why did I want to hear about a family who had picked the short straw in their life?
Well, I’ll tell you why I DID want to know all of that – because it’s real life. ‘The Family Gift’ had a jam packed storyline that contained more than enough to keep me hanging on until the end.
Freya IS struggling with her emotions after being the victim of a late night attack. Freya IS struggling with her emotions due to an unwanted person returning to her life, and yes, she is also struggling with her emotions because some of the people she loves the most, are hurting and she cannot do anything to help them.
Throughout the book, Freya welcomes her subconscious, Mildred, into the fold. You know, the voice in the back of our heads that we all love to hate. The one who ALWAYS has an answer for anything.
The fact that Freya was frightened to talk about her feelings in fear of disappointing her loved ones, coming across as weak, or ruining her career because she didn’t lead the positive, bouncy life that she had been told her fans wanted to see; struck a chord with me. Nobody should feel ashamed when it comes to talking about their worries, their fears, their mental health. Nobody should feel as though they need to pretend to be happy in case people dont like them anymore. Nobody should be ashamed of being true to themselves, all because of what someone else believes.
I think that the message, Cathy Kelly, conveyed in her storyline was such an important one, and something I truly think that everyone needs to know. Its heartbreaking feeling as though you cant talk about what’s concerning you, whether it’s big or small, because of other people. I am talking from personal experience here, especially now as I am in a similar mindset to Freya and I needed to hear that it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling, or that you’re not coping. We are human and NOBODY has the right to invalidate our feelings because others think that the only way through is to just ‘get on with it’. I know I have veered off slightly here, and I do apologise, I just think that Cathy Kelly did something momentous by including a topic so stigmatic, in her book.
I finished ‘The Family Gift’ with a sense of belonging. I adored the heart and the concept of the book, and I felt that Cathy Kelly had executed the emotion and realism, absolutely beautifully. This was, by far, one of the most humbling, hopeful, and pivotal books I have ever read. A true diamond in the rough.