The Way Back To Us has had such an emotional impact on me. It is not a happy read so I wouldn’t advise it if you are looking for some light escapism. However it is emotionally charged and raw with realistic brilliance. I cried a few times reading this novel.
The Way Back To Us is a story of a family trying to cope with a young child’s disability. Five year old Teddy has a genetic condition resulting in multiple disabilities that have a massive impact on his life. He was diagnosed when he was a year old and since then his mother Anna has devoted her life to caring for him full-time. Teddy has an older brother Isaac, who is quietly trying to make sense of his family life, all the while wanting to protect both Teddy and his mum. From what, he is not exactly sure. And then there is Tom, the boys’ father and Anna’s husband who increasingly feels an outsider in his own home.
When the novel opens Anna and Tom’s marriage is at breaking point. Anna is constantly feeling that she needs to fight on behalf of Teddy; she is so busy fighting that she’s sacrificing her marriage and her sense of self. She’s resentful of Tom and he is very aware of this, increasing his feelings of inadequacy and marginalisation. To add to this Tom is developing a strong attraction for Eliza, an uncomplicated and vibrant colleague.
There is no ‘good guys, bad guys’ in this novel, in fact I strongly empathised with each of the characters. The chapters alternate between all four family members, each narrated in the first-person so us as the reader gets an intimate insight into how they’re emotionally and psychologically feeling. Even though the narration can describe mundane, every day details, because it is so emotionally charged it adds to the dramatic tension.
The research that must have gone into writing this novel is unbelievable. Yes, every disability is different and how it affects individuals and family life is also very different. However the psychologically internal struggles as well as the external struggles can be similar. The Way Back To Us is an acute reminder of the importance of self compassion and reaching out for help.
I have to say a very big thank you to the author Kay Langdale for writing such a poignant novel. In my view this a must read and one of my favourite books of 2017 so far.
Thank you to Bookbridgr and Hodder & Stoughton for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for my honest review.
Publication date of The Way Back To Us: 10 August 2017