Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
I read Everything Happens For A Reason over a couple of days after diving into it straight away. I was immediately intrigued by the thought provoking plotline, I am quite a spiritual person and the concept spoke to me. As we learn from the blurb, Rachel has suffered a heart-breaking loss one that remolds your life and how you see it. For example, Rachel talks about daffodils which once meant the start of a new life, but due to the circumstances now reminds her of death. The format of this book is written in quite the clever, contemporary format, with our protagonist penning many emails to an unknown reader. I felt that this was both therapeutic for Rachel, as well as allowing her to hold on to some kind of denial following the loss of her child. Who is she without her child? She is on maternity leave without having a child to care for and she begins to focus on an event that she feels was directly responsible for her loss – she saved someone from jumping to their death, a death which in her mind would provide a space in the world for her son Luke. I enjoyed the manhunt for the saved individual and how you could see with every chapter, the suffocating veil of grief begin to loosen around Rachel’s throat. I quite liked Rachel as a protagonist, her loss made me sympathize with her but the way that she echoed her grief with sprinklings of humour lightened the mood and curved off the sharp edges of grief.
Everything Happens For A Reason is quite a special book, not only is it a magnificent start to Katie’s writing career but it demonstrates her ability to take a concept that is close to her heart, something that is raw and painful, to create this outlet, one that others can identify with as well as sharing a smile on the way with her inclusion of dark humour. The array of characters, including the annoying mother and sister – in – law gave a whole other layer to the narrative, one that I feel shows the isolation of Rachel, as well as those who have experienced the same, how society has a timeline for someone’s grief and how they act towards that. Karen has called this novel special and I completely agree with her, it feels personal, it’s absolutely life-affirming but it’s also different in terms of genre labelling. Katie has created a read that is sad, comic and mysterious, something that is written completely in first person in a unique format that will have you hooked. Katie has created characters, s in the background with a completely believable three-dimensional character in its foreground, she has weaved a beautiful story of meaningfulness, loss and I think hope in such a constructive and sublime way. Everything Happens For A Reason is Katie’s first novel and I just know that it won’t be the last we see of her and that makes me excited!
Thanks again to the wonderful Karen for sending me an eBook copy of this STUNNING debut.
If you’re reading this and you’re writing up your anticipated 2021 list, do yourself a favour and add Everything Happens For A Reason.
Until next time,