Sunday 30 November 2014

Review ~ Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby.

Title: Ignoring Gravity.
Author: Sandra Danby.
Publisher: Beulah Press.
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: November 21, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.

Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…

Ignoring Gravity is an emotional, moving tale about two sisters, Rose and Lily, threatened to be torn apart by an adoption they discover, six months after the death of their mother. The novel is mostly told in alternating chapters from Rose and Lily. Whilst going through their mother’s things a little while after cancer killed her, they find her diaries and soon after learn the life-changing news that Rose was adopted and Lily isn’t her sister after all. In a way I was glad this moment happened early on because I struggled to connect with the novel beforehand but once we’re made fully aware of the adoption, the story really picks up.

The underlying theme throughout Ignoring Gravity is relationships – either family relationships or romantic relationships – and I thought the author’s writing was strong and sensitively done. The adoption is of course the main theme here and I was fascinated with learning more about Rose’s real parents, why she was adopted and how her upbringing was affected. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to find out your family isn’t actually your real family after all – though I do know I’d be a complete emotional wreck – and so I loved how, instead of it all being tears and drama, Rose quickly started using her journalistic ability to her strength and began investigating, to discover who she really was. With each secret uncovered, I was gripped and intrigued to learn more. At times I felt Rose was oblivious to how her adoption would affect more people than just her, and at times I thought she came across a bit cold, but then it’s kind of impossible to judge how you’d react to such a situation…

Lily’s story was just as enjoyable to read too. She’s hurting herself, after another failed attempt to become pregnant. Her husband seemed to not care much at all and this only lead to more desperation from Lily, who I couldn’t help but sympathise with. Again, the author wrote Lily’s thoughts and actions with sensitivity and I thought the writing was brave, given that this debut novel tackles some pretty hard-hitting issues. I loved how, though Lily and Rose both had quite different individual issues to work though, their stories interlinked. As Rose is working, her articles and research delve into infertility and as Lily tries to learn more about her struggles to conceive, she finds out things which could help Rose on her way to discovery and so even though they’d lost the relationship name they once had, it was quite touching how they could still help each other. The writing was emotive and expressive and I thought their characters both showed a lot of courage.

There was more to Ignoring Gravity than the adoption but I liked how the author packed a lot into this story without anything distracting from what was such a life changing theme. I loved the introduction of Nick, Rose’s love interest. He seemed like such a considerate, thoughtful character and I liked how as he strived to help Rose, their relationship developed in a kind of low-key, plausible fashion. The twists in this book definitely came into the main storyline, and there were quite a few as you would expect. I thought they were all worked wonderfully in the way that they were captivating, and I found myself as eager to learn about Rose’s biological family as she was herself. There was one twist towards the end that I felt had been coming for a while, and wasn’t as unpredictable as I was hoping it might turn out, but it didn’t really impact how I felt on what was a well-written novel full of real, flawed characters and real feelings. It shows the reader the importance of trust and honesty and I felt it had a satisfying ending which also left me excited to read more from a promising author.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Sandra Danby grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. She started reading early and has never stopped. After a degree in English Literature in London, she became a journalist. Now she writes fiction full-time.

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