The Stranger in my Home by Adele Parks
The Stranger in my Home by Adele Parks is my kind of book. It has enough to keep you hooked and want to read it in a few days but its not the kind of book that has that many plot twists that it leaves you scratching your head.
Alison comes from humble beginnings. Abandoned by her mother in favour of her younger siblings she doesn’t have the easiest childhood which is made worse by the fact she becomes pregnant at sixteen and is made by her mother to give the baby up for adoption.
It’s not until she meets the level headed Jeff in her twenties that she finds a source of stability and normality. They have a daughter, Katherine, who Alison adores to the point of suffocation. Possibly making up for the fact of her lost child, Alison’s devotion and love towards Katherine is sickening throughout the novel. Not allowing her to have sweets and coffee for fear of what it will do to her body or the longing for her to return from sleepovers, Alison’s love for her daughter is claustrophobic to say the least.
One day Alison and her family’s middle class, normal life is blown out of the water when a man called Tom comes to her door and tells her that Katherine and his daughter Olivia, were swapped and birth and Katherine may have a heredity cancer gene that killed his wife, Annabel. Calm and warming, Tom doesn’t seem to see this as a hug issue but to Alison it’s the end of the world. She feels that due to Katherine’s success on the lacrosse field and her exceptional grades, she never was going to be her daughter.
The families try and get along and go to ice hockey matches and a fireworks display. Tom and Katherine’s relationship blossoms as does Tom and Alison’s as he becomes a shoulder for her to cry on. However Alison and Olivia ‘s relationship is nothing but hostile as Olivia cannot warm to her real mother.
At the beginning of the novel I was quite a fan of Tom but when he makes a pass at Alison, I knew things were not as they seemed. When Katherine doesn’t return home from a sleepover Alison panics and contacts everyone she knows. But then Annabel, Tom’s supposedly dead wife, knocks on her door. She tells Alison what a mess Tom is. Annabel did in fact have breast cancer but it isn’t a hereditary gene and she divorced Tom a year ago. Tom in fact drove a wedge in between Olivia and Alison’s relationship by telling the former that her real mother wanted nothing to do with her. Rather than being a model father Tom is in fact on drugs and unemployed. And then it hits Alison, he has Katherine.
With the police involved and press conferences held, Alison receives a clue from Tom that he is in Brighton. She travels to Brighton alone and finds her daughter drugged and locked in a basement. Playing along with Tom to save her daughter Alison tells Tom what he wants to hear and then knocks him down the stairs and escapes.
The book ends with Tom out of the picture, Alison and Annabel best of friends and the former loosening her parental constraints on Katherine.
This is the first of Adele Parks’ books I’ve read and I was certainly not disappointed. I felt there could have been fifty to a hundred pages omitted from the middle which wouldn’t have made a difference as it wasn’t until the last hundred pages where it really ramped up the pace. Still it’s definitely a book to suit all sorts of readers and to recommend to your girlfriends.