“ Author: Giselle Green / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 02 February 2009 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers / Title: Little Miracles / ISBN 13: 9781847560681 / ISBN 10: 1847560681 „
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When Julia Fearon, her boyfriend Charlie and their son Haydn, go to Malaga to meet Charlie's family, Julia is thrilled at the prospect. Her optimism is short-lived when it turns out Charlie's family are incredibly religious and they're pressurising Julia about her upcoming wedding to Charlie. Trouble is, Julia has a secret that could ruin her future. Then tragedy strikes: after an argument with Charlie's abuela, Julia decides to take Haydn to the beach. There, Haydn disappears. Julia is frantic trying to find her son whereas Charlie loses himself in his work to help him get through his tragedy. The question is: Is Haydn alive or is Julia just struggling to come to terms with Haydn's death?
When I picked up this book I saw that Giselle Green was billed as the English Jodi Picoult. I hate authors being likened to other authors, particularly likening an author to Jodi Picoult - she's in a league of her own when it comes to her books. However I see where the billing has come from - Giselle is similar to Jodi and asks the question of what's the best way to get over the disappearance of your child?
Little Miracles is told in alternating first person chapters between Julia and Charlie and that's an interesting tack for Giselle to take. If there's to be more than one main character in a book, authors generally go third-person, but I thought Giselle alternated her chapters well between the two and I thought the first-person narrative allowed us to really see what was going on in the heads of Julia and Charlie.
I loved Julia straight away. I could totally understand why she felt ostracised with everything going on all around her in Malaga. I did wish that she'd told Charlie and Charlie's family sooner about her secret but bar that, I thought Julia was a great character. Her reaction to her son's disappearance was one I would expect; Giselle wrote about the pain of a mother fabulously well. I was right there at that beach with Julia when she realised Haydn was missing and I never left her side in her bid to discover the truth. I could also see Charlie's point of view. Yes, it seemed as if he got over the whole thing incredibly quickly but the contrast between the two parents was done really well so I could perfectly understand Charlie throwing himself into his work to try and get over it all. I could see both points of view and didn't agree or disagree with either, as far as I'm concerned there was no wrong way to get over the loss/disappearance of a child. The difference of opinion about Haydn's alleged disappearance only added to the book, giving it an extra element.
I loved the descriptions of Malaga and liked the Spanish phrases thrown into the book. I could understand all of the words so didn't need an online translator - there's nothing worse reading a book with some foreign sentences in you don't understand!
While Charlie's family were a bit too full-on I did like them. Particularly Charlie's abuela (grandmother). I thought she had hidden depths and I thought she was an incredibly sweet person. I was incredibly sad to learn of her illness. I also quite liked Eva and Roberto, Charlie's brother and sister-in-law. They seemed like genuine people but I could see why Julia felt left out and overwhelmed by everything. Particularly after Haydn's disappearance. There's also some hidden depths to our main characters, Julie and Charlie. Both were told things about their past that wasn't particularly true as we found out through-out the book.
When I was reading this book I had a feeling of "I've heard this somewhere before" and after going on Sky News, I was reminded of what it was: the Madeline McCann disappearance. It's not that they're similar in the way the two children disappeared but they are alike. In both cases, the feeling is that the parents will never find out what happened to their children.
Fianlly, I have to mention the ending. It's quite ambiguous and it could drive some people insane: why read 400+ pages of a book and have that kind of ending? Yes, I got a flickering feeling of annoyance but thinking about it, it kind of works. I'm incredibly curious and, after I finish writing this, I plan to find the authors site and ask her about the ending and why she wrote that, but overall it kind of works. It finishes the book (albeit with a few question marks) but it also potentially paves the way for a sequel.
I'm really starting to enjoy women's fiction books that aren't about 20/30-something ditzy women, like Catherine Ryan Hyde and now, Giselle Green. I'll be looking out for Giselle's debut as well as any future books she may write as her writing really is great. If you're a Jodi Picoult or Catherine Ryan Hyde fan I'd wholly recommend this. Heck, I'd recommend it regardless of who you're a fan of.