Review Blog

Dec 02 2019

Messy, wonderful us by Catherine Isaac

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Simon and Schuster, 2019. ISBN: 9781471178054.
(Age: 17+) Recommended. Catherine Isaac provides a heart-warming read that reminds us that life is short.
Allie, the narrator, is a scientist working on a cure for cystic fibrosis and her life is ordered. When Allie unexpectedly comes upon information that calls into question the family ties she relies on to keep her life in order, Allie takes a trip to Italy to find answers. She is accompanied by her best friend Ed who has secrets of his own. He has recently separated from his wife Julia, and she phones Allie each day searching for answers for the sudden separation.
The reader is encapsulated in the world that is Northern Italy as Allie peals away the layers that surround Ed and unpacks her untold family history. We gradually discover two stories that are often left untold - domestic violence and unplanned pregnancies. The characters are well drawn so the reader can see the characters clearly, and empathise, as they wrestle with their dilemmas. The reader is drawn in to the life histories that have delivered Ed and Allie to their current circumstance and is left feeling invested in the developing outcome.
This is a story about love. Catherine Isaac deftly describes the love that can bind and the love that can destroy. The author skilfully leads the reader to see that life and love are messy. This messiness can be wonderful.
Linda Guthrie

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