Sunday 1 May 2016

Reviewed: Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

TITLE: Saving Phoebe Murrow
AUTHOR: Herta Feely


Amazon - Goodreads


A timeless story of mothers and daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist, this heart-wrenching debut for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jane Shemilt and The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas will make you question how you and your family spend time online

Isabel Murrow is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isobel wants, in a perilous world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phohebe safe.

Phoebe has just attempted suicide. She says it is Isabel's fault.

Saving Phoebe Murrow is a timely tale about an age-old problem - how best to raise our children, and how far to go in keeping them from harm. Set amidst the complicated web of relationships at the school gate, it tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.

Saving Phoebe Murrow is a book that took me back a few years to being a teenager at school surrounded by bitchy, cruel girls who were always ready to knock you down with their comments. Every school and year group has bullies but this book in particular is about the desperately sad cyber-bullying of fourteen year old Phoebe. It’s a brave story, shocking in its honesty and naturally at times quite an uncomfortable book to read. The author’s writing is very engaging and this book has been niggling away at me for days because the themes of the story have stayed with me and the characters, as horrible as some of them are, are difficult to forget.

The book opens quite frantically, straight to the startling point as we meet Phoebe and discover her history of self-harm. Her mother Isabel, whose perspective is also featured prominently throughout this book, is panic stricken due to the statistic of how many people attempt to commit suicide following self-harm. Phoebe’s distress in Chapter One, as a boy she has met online abused her all over her Facebook page, soon followed by people at her school joining in the bullying, instantly had me anxious and worried for her despite being a character I barely even knew at that point.

Phoebe was a really interesting character and even though I couldn’t relate to the things she resorted to because of the bullying, I still felt like I could identify with her and found myself really understanding all her emotions and how every little thing was building up inside and tearing her down. I was so sad on Phoebe’s behalf, angry at all the cruelty and completely caught up in this impactful story. But nasty, misguided teenage girls barely even scraped the surface of what this book was about.

Whilst the early few chapters of Saving Phoebe Murrow suggests this is a book simply about fragile friendships and how friends can turn against you, there was so much more to it. Social media plays a big part in the story and there’s an accurate representation about a parent’s reservations to their child being on the likes of Facebook whilst at the same time, their children begin to rely on websites like Facebook and can’t bear to spend time offline. I liked all the little attention to detail with the way social media was written, like the Messenger light to show someone was online etc because when you’re young and trying to talk to your friends on social media, you do pick up on everything and wonder why they’re taking so long (over a minute...) to reply and so on.

One thing that really took me by surprise in Saving Phoebe Murrow was the parents and how they were really just as bad, if not worse, than the people who were bullying Phoebe. Two of them in particular drove me to despair as they were just vile, vile people! Some of their antics were very disturbing but they were fascinating to read about and to try and figure out their motives and why they were being driven to such lengths. This book was packed with gruesomely detailed, compelling characters who were never, for me, love-’em-or-hate-’em people but instead characters who twisted your opinion on them back and forth throughout.

Saving Phoebe Murrow was a very high-drama story. The pacing was quick and edgy as pages were laced with tension and suspense, concern for what was to come next. Occasionally the book felt a bit disjointed, with a few too many shifts in POV coming from the middle of nowhere. I also felt the last 15% or so lost a bit of the edge the book had possessed throughout but it still managed to end things fairly satisfyingly. For the most part, I was so involved in this story that I whizzed through it, desperate to know what was going to happen next. At times, parts of how the book transpired felt far-fetched yet still entirely plausible. I guess that’s just a true representation of life and how things that seem ridiculous or unbelievable actually happen on a regular basis. This debut novel tells an important story about cyber-bullying and its sinister consequences, making for harrowing yet also completely addictive reading.


  1. Great cover. Would definitely make me pick it up to read. Thanks, Soph. x

    1. It was the cover that drew me to the book too! x


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