Title: Someone Else’s Life
Author: Katie Dale
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
When 17-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother’s best friend, “Aunt Sarah,” that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn’t her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.
Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family’s deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.
As is common of books that I give 3.75 star ratings to, this book left me slightly conflicted. I enjoyed the story for the most point – it didn’t always leave me shocked at some of the twists, but it tended to always be interesting. The characters, on the other hand, tended to leave me wanting more. It’s difficult for me to talk about the protagonist without giving something away, so I’m warning ahead of time that there might be some unintentional spoilers ahead.
Okay, I’ll talk about the characters first and get that bad stuff out of the way first. The protagonist that we’re with from the beginning is Rosie. Sometimes it’s difficult to sympathize with her. I understand her situation is difficult, but I don’t find myself caring about her all that much. I want to know what happens to her, but I don’t worry too much. Then, after a while, we meet another protagonist – (definitely a spoiler) the girl who Rosie was switched with. I don’t really care about her either. It’s understandable that she isn’t happy when she learns about the switch and everything she never knew about, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to feel sorry about her when she tends to be a brat. At the beginning, she’s inserted into the story in a vague way that made me assume that I was reading about Rosie’s birth mother instead. I know it was vague on purpose, but I’m not a big fan of being really confused for a third or so of a book. A little confusion is alright, but a whole lot just leaves the reader totally, well, confused.
It’s the story that keeps me going. Well, that and some of the supporting cast. There are plenty of lovely people who are stuck interacting with the often bratty protagonists. That and the interesting story make this book closer to a 4 star than a 3 star. I wanted to know what was going to happen, reading about the various family dramas and the fallout of a disease like Huntington’s. I learned plenty about the disease that I didn’t know before reading this book, and because it was presented as part of the story rather than a medical commercial that gives all the information in a way that’s supposed to seem casual but is obviously from a script, I enjoyed learning about it. There were some twists that I saw coming before they were actually revealed, but there were also times when I was genuinely, and happily, surprised. If the story hadn’t been interesting, there’s no way I would have stuck with the story.
By the end of the story, I was mostly satisfied. As I’ve said, this had little to do with the characters and mostly to do with the story. I hope that whatever Katie Dale comes up with next, it focuses on creating understanding and sympathetic characters as well as an interesting story. If she does that, then she’ll definitely have made a fan out of me.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars