I first read 'Out of Step' a few years ago when I was just embarking on the prospect of becoming a step mum, and as I read this book I could find a lot of parallels between my own and Nell, the central character's. Although it is a work of fiction, I do feel that it is very useful for anyone about to take on step kids, and more especially - an ex wife!
The story centres on the relationship between Nell and Rob. Relationships can be complicated things at the best of times, but when the love of your life comes along with two children and a rather difficult ex- wife then things are bound not to run smoothly. Which is exactly wht happens in 'Out of Step'. Although things are idyllic at first, Nell is ultimately tested time and time again - to such a great extent that she questions whether there is any future in the relationship! Nell has to contend with the resentment of the children, arrangements being changed last minute due to the lack of co-operation from Rob's ex wife, and eventually a very difficult meeting between the two of them when they come to what you might term as an uneasy truce. To top all that, Rob has difficulties communicating with her and she often ends up feeling isolated and alone. Does the relationship survive it all and they have a happy ending? Well. of course, I'm not going to tell you that - you'll just have to read the book for yourself!
I really enjoyed this and not only because it reminded me of my own situation at the time - although it is always good reading about things you can relate to! It also made me feel that I wasn't alone in some of my thoughts and feelings, and although this is a story I felt that it did a good job of mirroring real life.
I also really liked and related to Nell, the central character. I thought she was very well developed, and I felt like I was going through her frustration, disappointment, indignation and happiness in equal quantities with her. She was a character you could really care about. The other characters were well developed too, and although most of them at times were portrayed quite badly, they all had redeeming features. I thought the portrayal of the children was particularly good with their behaviour and their words bouncing between very loving and very nasty. You could see how they were desperately trying to come to terms with their parents' separation whilst trying to do everything to get them back together. In their eyes Nell is the enemy and the obstacle between their mother and father's reunion.
This was the sort of book that whilst reading it I was sometimes laughing, sometimes despairing and sometimes crying. It certainly affected all my emotions and by the time I had finished reading it I felt as if I were wrung out! That's a good thing as far as I am concerned because it means that I have been totally immersed and absorbed in what I have been reading.
So overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading modern women's fiction. It is published by Arrow and at the moment can be bought on Amazon for only £3.97.