Thursday 1 July 2021

Review | Someone I Used To Know by Paige Toon

Published by Simon & Schuster on June 24, 2021

Wow. Wow was literally all I could say about Someone I Used To Know for a good few hours after reading it. Like any other Paige Toon book, this one grabbed me from the first page, but there was something so different about this book, something so pure and powerful that had me so emotionally invested in the characters and their lives that I truly felt sad to leave them behind once I’d reached the end.

Someone I Used To Know spans between two timeframes. “Then” – in which Leah, biological daughter of two foster carer parents, becomes close to two troubled boys. George, who is her new foster brother with a hugely personal struggle that causes him to occasionally lash out but mostly to withdraw from those around him. Theo, the new kid at Leah’s school who is picked on for being out of place due to his rich parents usually sending him to a boarding school. He too has his demons.

“Now” – several years later and Leah returns to her old family home back in Yorkshire, only to find she is not the only one who is back. George has also returned, and Leah’s not sure she’s quite ready to face the boy she remembers, the one who had such an impact on her life.

This book had beauty at its core but I don’t mean that it was twee and overly sentimental, I simply mean that there was so much love and compassion and healing within this story that it made my heart full when reading it.

There were two aspects to this book I particularly enjoyed for completely different reasons.

Firstly, the book is set on an alpaca farm and truly this was as lovely as you could imagine. The character and personalities of the alpacas (not something I thought I would be saying) brought joy to the pages of this book and to some of the characters lives and added light to the shade. The author has definitely done her research and I loved getting to know little things about them and the processes of having an alpaca farm.

My favourite part of the book, though, was the insight into foster care. Leah’s parents were fostering several children of different ages and each one of them had their own troubles and their own story. Each one needed the unconditional love and support of people who would, as Leah’s dad would say, take them as they are. I was fascinated by the exploration of the foster care system in this book. Paige Toon really helps the reader feel every emotion here. From the reward of helping a kid find their place in the world, to the heartbreak of having to say goodbye to them as they move on to the next chapter in their life, the outlook on foster care here was real and honest but also so moving.

I have loved every book I have read by this author, but there was something about Someone I Used To Know that for me, made it even more special than the rest. There’s such a warmth to this book as it explores love and family in all its shapes and forms. Classic Paige Toon – she always makes me laugh and cry throughout reading her books. Only this one might take me a bit longer to recover from…

Review copy provided by the blog tour organiser - this was my honest review.    


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