Perhaps that’s the real intimacy: to know how someone else breathes when they’re asleep.
I can’t remember when I added Roz Nay’s Our Little Secret to my ‘Want to Read’ pile on Goodreads (my reading life is a mess), but I knew that I did it because Nay was an author I wanted to keep tabs on, so I consider it completely serendipitous when I was sent an ARC for her sophomore novel Hurry Home. Nay’s novel has two narrators, Alex and Ruth – estranged sisters, pulled apart by time and circumstance.
Alex is a social worker, one who operates with much anger, anger at the inadequacy of the system, pushing forward with a zeal of wanting to effect change. While we admire and applaud her efforts, there is also a single-mindedness to Alex, one in which her perspective is the one that has the most weight. She steamrolls over her colleagues, never pausing to consider that sometimes families need help to stay together, which is the cause a social worker must help facilitate.
When Ruth shows up on Alex’s doorstep, pregnant, her carefully managed life starts to pull apart. Because Ruth is a part of her past, a past she wants nothing to do with, and refuses to have anyone turn over. As the sisters warily circle each other, the reader hopes for some tidbits as to what caused the estrangement. Slowly it is revealed to us, mostly by Ruth, who doesn’t have as many compunctions letting the past in, despite the mud present in hers. As the mud starts to trail in, sister is pitted against sister, and stories start to contradict, leaving the reader to work out who is telling the truth, and who may be lying. You will fly through the pages as you try to dissect, questioning everything, until the narrative begins to tilt in favour of one sister.
You see it coming of course, but it is still delicious to watch everything unravel, your questions answered and the pieces coming together. Nay explores the impact a tragedy can have on familial relationships, how despair leaves you dolling out blame, unable to bear the guilt of the part you played in it all. A tragedy severed the relationship between two sisters, and we see how any attempt to repair and make amends lands on deaf ears and a cold heart.
It is so ingrained in us the importance of family, that the bonds weaved through blood will always exist, and even with time and distance you are still able to tug on them and reel yourself back in. Reality sometimes shows us a different story, and in Nay’s Hurry Home, there are numerous displays of outsiders coming in to help. Nay’s message is that justice can occur if the right people do the right thing. It is only through negligence of the individual that bad people get away with bad things. But we need to work with the systems in place, not blindly charting our own course of justice.
Nay’s Hurry Home is a family drama with thriller aspects, and trust me when I say you will find yourself flying through the book in a hurry (I couldn’t resist). The good thing is, I still have her first book to get through, and I have faith it will be just as fantastic as this one was.
Review copy provided
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Roz Nay's dual narrator novel makes you question the strength of familial ties, and brings you into the world of social work and family court, and the key players necessary for systems to work.
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