My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This final book in the trilogy by A H M Beattie concludes what has been a deeply personal adventure which the author captures superbly.
With the first book dealing with her birth mother and the second with her adopted mother, Beattie turns in this third book to her own young self, growing from childhood, to teenage life and finally to being an independent woman.
As with the previous two books, there is room for improvement – or at least the breaking of stylistic norms takes some getting used to. The third book is, again, a different size and layout to the former two. There’s no page numbers either. The setting of the text has a huge surrounding margin which looks like the text was set for a book of a smaller size (which it could have been quite easily). The editing of the text itself, however, is considerably better than previously, so the writing flows well.
But if you’ve read the first two instalments then you have adapted to the author’s style and I have no doubt you will be absolutely satisfied with this last book. Keeping with the third person style of the other books, Beattie writes of her young self as Hannah, giving at least a modicum of distance from the emotions which must, surely, stir rise up in her as she thinks of her past.
The story is raw. If you hoped for the ‘bad guy’ to get his comeuppance, prepare for disappointment. There’s no ‘fairy tale’ ending here. This is the author’s real life we’re reading and it is full of unanswered questions and a general lack of that Facebook favourite – karma – where ‘what goes around comes around’ is the motto of the times. There’s hints that, perhaps, in years to come after this book finishes, such payback might occur, nut it isn’t here. Nor should it be – life just isn’t like that.
Instead, the story is more gritty, more heroic for the lack of redemption. Hannah finds herself, rebuilds, and continuously adjusts to the spanners thrown at her by almost every adult in her life. She succeeds, stands tall and proud, and manages life. She does so without any guardian angel or handsome prince to save her. She plasters the cracks, mends the breaks, fills the holes and creates something new for herself.
I found this final volume absolutely un-put-down-able, doing so only when exhaustion swept me at night when I read the book. And, according to my ultimate test of any book which tells the story of characters, real or otherwise, I wanted to know what happens next to Hannah when the last word was finished. That makes the book a success in my eyes.
I would strongly hope that the author considers new editions where she includes an afterword or interview or suchlike, where she tells us something of how she researched these books. How did she find her real mother? What records did she search? I’d love to know more. I also hope we get a fourth volume looking at her adult life that gives us the process of how she came to terms with her upbringing and, again, how she found her birth mother and found the truths in her adopted mother’s story. Without a doubt, there’s clearly more to tell of this tale. I hope she decides to put it in print.
The ‘My Adopted Life’ series is well worth buying as a gift for the discerning reader who enjoys true life stories and is looking for something very earthy and real. There’s no beating about the bush with Beattie’s style. She tells it as it is, without recourse to mushy metaphor and other forms of gushing expression. With true northern British spirit, she’s tells you what happened and then moves on. Deal with it, she seems to say, because I did. And she certainly has dealt with it. That, if anything, is where the true ‘karma’ lies.
Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here.
His latest book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.
Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media. The novel,’The Pukur’, will be published by Histria Books in 2022.
D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing.
Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways, and currently reviews for Lancashire Life magazine and Northern Arts Review.