Lives Like Mine – Eva Verde | #bookreview | @SimonSchusterUK @TeamBATC @EvaKinder

I got a copy of this book when I was at the Team Books and the City showcase back in November. I began reading it on the train home but only just realised I hadn’t reviewed it on my blog. So better late than never, here’s my thoughts on this insightful book.

About the book

                To three small children, their heritage dual like hers.
                To a mother who immigrated to make a better life but has been rejected by her chosen country.
                To a man who loves her but who will not defend her to his intolerant family.
                Whose roles now define her and trap her in a life she no longer recognises…
Meet Monica, the flawed heroine at the heart of LIVES LIKE MINE.
With her three children in school, Monica finds herself wondering if this is all there is. Despite all the effort and the smiles, in the mirror she sees a woman hollowed out from putting everyone else first, tolerating her in-laws’ intolerance, and wondering if she has a right to complain when she’s living the life that she has created for herself.
Then along comes Joe, a catalyst for change in the guise of a flirtatious parent on the school run. Though the sudden spark of their affair is hedonistic and oh so cathartic, Joe soon offers a friendship that shows Monica how to resurrect and honour the parts of her identity that she has long suppressed. He is able to do for Monica what Dan has never managed to, enabling her both to face up to a past of guilty secrets and family estrangements, and to redefine her future.

My Thoughts

As a white woman, I have never been subject to any racism. It’s not my lived experience as it is for many people. I really don’t understand how or why people can be racist and don’t just judge people as people regardless of their skin colour. This book was a real eye-opener into the kind of abuse people of colour experience on a daily basis. And I apologise if ‘people of colour’ is not the correct term to use. I found what Monica is subjected to quite shocking and was horrified at the insight into casual and not so casual racism evoked in the book.

Monica’s mother in law in particular was horrendous. I don’t know how Monica was able to put up with some of the terrible things she said. It was so disappointing that her husband Dan, good in so many other ways, didn’t seem to recognise the hurt this caused. And yet at other times I was so moved by his love for Monica “I hope you know, that you’ve always known, that you’re my heart Mon. I’ll look after you. Forever. ”

There’s a lot of tension built up throughout the book but then there’s also moments of (dark) humour. The author balances these brilliantly. The complex family relationships are examined in minute, often uncomfortable detail. Monica is described as a flawed heroine and she’s certainly that. For all I was on her side, at times I despaired of some of her choices.

I finished this book some time ago but it’s one that has stayed in my mind. It really made me think about whether I was guilty of some of the casual racism I read about in the book. I do hope not. It also gave me a better understanding of what some people experience everyday. A well written, sometimes unsettling, often thought-provoking book.

Lives Like Mine is published by Simon & Schuster and available in all formats

About the Author

Eva Verde is a writer from Forest Gate, East London. She is of dual heritage. Identity and class are recurring themes throughout her work as she studies towards an MA in Prose Fiction. Her love song to libraries, I Am Not Your Tituba forms part of Kit De Waal’s Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers with Unbound. Eva is a story contributor in the forthcoming Stories to Make You Smile Anthology for World Book Night 2021. Eva’s debut novel Lives Like Mine, was published by Simon and Schuster in June 2021. Eva lives in Essex with her husband, three daughters and Labrador sons.

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