Saturday 13 May 2023

Book review : Cuckoo In The Nest - Fran Hill


Just one look at the colours swirling around on the front cover of the book was enough to take me back to my 1970's childhood. I'm actually about a decade younger than the central character, a 14-year-old girl going through her troubled teens, but even so, I could recognise the meals, the music and the family pastimes from my own childhood. The seventies was a long time ago but it is a great book for bringing up old memories of what now seems like such a simple lifetime.

Things are not quite so simple for Jackie Chadwick though, the lead character. Since her mother died of cancer several years before, her father has gone off the rails. He's lost his job as a fireman and fallen into a hopeless life as an alcoholic, leaving Jackie to keep the family going by providing food however she can and avoiding her father's belligerent attacks. A broken wrist leads her to reveal details of her unsatisfactory home life which makes Social Services step in and whisk her away to a foster family, the Walls.

Uncle Nick, a supply teacher, and Bridget (who Jackie can't manage to call Auntie Bridget), along with their daughter Amanda, also fourteen like Jackie, make up her new family, along with the dog, a dalmatian called Spotless. While things seem pretty perfect for a while, cracks start appearing in the surface of the family unit, but Jackie, supported by her social workers, seems ready to accept that life and families (or foster families) don't need to be 100% perfect for everything to turn out ok.

Despite some of the darker moments in the story, it's ultimately a positive, uplifting book, showing how life can get better and people can find their happy ending however much of a bad start in life they were dealt. The book is based on author Fran Hill's own experiences of being fostered in the 1970's, which is probably why it seems so historically and personally precise and believable. For me, it was an enjoyable step back in time.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Legend Press (26 April 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1915643910
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1915643919

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book in order to share my honest opinion.

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