Friday, 19 June 2015

Reviewed: You, Me & Other People by Fionnuala Kearney.







You, Me & Other People was published by Harper in paperback on June 18, 2015.


Thanks to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.



You, Me & Other People starts with a betrayal. We learn straight away that Beth has found out that her husband, and father to their daughter Meg, has been having an affair. Instantly, my feelings towards Adam were pretty negative – after all, he was a cheat on more than one occasion and didn’t seem to have learnt, or be willing to learn, from his mistakes. We also suspect, from the prologue, that Adam is harbouring another secret and I’ll be honest, I was all ready to hate his character. But wow. Fionnuala does an incredible job at developing the characters of Beth and Adam, really picking them apart from surface to surface and creating flawed human beings with such fascinating back stories. If there’s one thing to pick up from this book it’s that all is not what it seems and maybe you should listen and learn more about someone, other than simply what meets the eye, before judging them and writing them off. I swear you could never tell that You, Me & Other People was a debut novel. Fionnuala wrote a killer prologue which completely hooked me in, I was transfixed and argh DO NOT TALK TO ME WHILST I’M READING!

Everything in this book is written so realistically and with such depth. With the wonderfully put-together characters of Adam and Beth, it’s a massively character driven story but then at the same time, some of the themes are made so easy for a forty-something person to relate to, they could just slot themselves straight into the story and see how they have a choice on how to let deceit impact their lives and maybe things won’t always work out as you expect. I loved Beth’s character. From her obvious love of her husband to the slightly deranged, dark wit she possesses once the realisation of his betrayal sets in to the way she is constantly battling her inner demons because no she doesn’t want to be with her cheat of a husband but really she loves him and she can’t imagine her life without him so maybe she could take him back? We’re allowed to get so far into the minds of both these characters that at times it verges on the unsettling because lies and secrets and deceit are such a huge part of their lives – things are anything but rosy. Beth was the ‘victim’, having been the one lied to and cheated on, but she was by no means a character that wanted to attract lots of pity and sympathy. She was a fighter, even when it hurt and I really wasn’t sure how she was going to leave things.

On to Adam who was on surface, as Beth so eloquently put it, a dastard. It would be understandable to wish the worst for him because he screwed up so many times. I couldn’t blame any reader for not being able to stand him. I really wanted to dislike Adam myself but if I’m honest, I kind of, just, didn’t. There was more to him than I had expected. He made so many mistakes, there’s no avoiding that fact, and a lot of the time he knew what he was doing was a mistake but still did it anyway. I got that he wasn’t innocent but I did feel for him too. The more I learnt about Adam, the more fascinated I was and his character was the perfect representation of how things aren’t just black or white. There’s so many different characteristics, mentalities and traits that build up a person. It’s not all about being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I never trusted Adam. I never knew whether I was going to be led to end up liking him, disliking him or feeling indifferent towards him. But actually what I loved about Fionnuala’s writing was that pretty much every conclusion in this book is left up to the reader. She’s not telling you what’s right and wrong in a marriage – she’s looking into, quite deeply and brilliantly, the makings and breakings of a marriage in a very clever way.

I did not know where this story was going to be taken. I mean I was seriously clueless. Fionnuala had such a sneaky way of revealing secrets when I was least expecting them and flooring me. The more secrets that came out, the more I found myself expecting other secrets to come out and my imagination was in full force, let me tell you. There are so many themes from relationships, marriage, parenthood and growing up approached in this novel with such extraordinary capability by the author. The supporting characters are also pleasantly developed extremely well and I found that I could image being in their shoes, as onlookers to the lives of Adam and Beth and that sure was an interesting place to be. I loved how the book is told in alternating chapters between Beth and Adam so we are given a fair, equal understanding of both of them as people and seriously I could just go on and rave about this novel all day long. You, Me & Other People shocked me, moved me and completely consumed me for the two days I spent reading it. The best kind of novels are the ones that leave you thinking long after the final page is drawn and I will not be forgetting the characters of Adam and Beth for a long while yet.


A gripping, captivating and stunning debut novel that breaks down the inner workings of a marriage until you know for sure there's no easy way out for either character.





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