Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

We’ve all seen them, those news conferences on tv where distraught parents appeal for their missing child to come home. It’s heartbreaking for anyone to watch, but especially so as a parent thinking of how you would feel if it happened to your child. Somewhere Inside of Happy takes you into the heart of Maisie Bean’s family when the unthinkable happens and her teenage son Jeremy goes missing. Maisie has had a really tough life, escaping an abusive marriage which nearly cost her her life and now works really hard to provide for her two children. Her mother Bridie lives with them too and she is suffering from dementia which at times causes her to lash out at her daughter, not recognising her and thinking she is a stranger who want to cause her harm.

Told in multiple voices, Somewhere Inside of Happy takes the reader through five days which changed Maisie’s family’s life. It was awful imagining what Maisie goes through after realising Jeremy was missing. I felt furious with the media who were so intrusive, camped outside the family home looking for dirt on Maisie and her family, making them look so bad and it made me reflect on how we probably all make assumptions about families in this situation depending on what we are fed by the media.  It was heartbreaking too reading about Maisie’s marriage and the violence she suffered at the hands of Danny. Through this though, the reader sees what strength she has discovered she has. Most difficult to read though were the chapters showing hour by hour what was happening with Jeremy. I read those chapters feeling so uneasy – what had happened to this kind and sensitive young man?

The book ends with a very powerful epilogue. It was really moving reading about what had happened to Maisie and her family and friends twenty years on. It showed the strength of Maisie to have come through the ordeal that she did and showed that the love and support of family and friends is so crucial in testing times. Maisie was such an amazing character, so courageous, gutsy and ultimately so strong. Through her in this epilogue, we see how forgiveness can be healing. The epilogue has such an important message too which, sadly, is probably just as relevant to certain sectors of society today.

Somewhere Inside of Happy is compelling reading despite the heartbreaking tale which is unfolding and it is beautifully written. I really felt quite drained by the end, feeling I’d gone through the whole emotional journey with Maisie. It’s one of only a very few books to make me a snivelling wreck. Please be warned you will need hankies and lot of them.

My thanks to the publishers Black Swan for allowing me to read a review copy of this book via Netgalley. Somewhere Inside of Happy was published by Black Swan on 7th April and you can order a copy here: Somewhere Inside of Happy

From the back of the book

Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie.

Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion.

Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.

From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes this heart-breaking yet uproariously uplifting new novel about love, resilience and the life-changing power of hope.

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