A though-provoking, engrossing novel…
Phillips spins a briskly paced, keenly observed story in which a broken, abusive marriage impacts a child’s life in devastating ways. Set in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe and Australia, Jenny Phillips’s narrative of young Jessie’s life over the course of nine years in Family Heartbreaks is both tender and heartbreaking. Tired of her husband Bert’s infidelity, alcoholic rants, and physical abuse, Marie decides to leave him and start her life afresh with their seven-year-old daughter Jessie. The mother-daughter duo survives misfortune only to find their quiet life turned upside down by an unfortunate incident. Another man enters Marie’s life and after marrying her, he relocates them to Australia. But that’s just the beginning of more troubles for the pair. Jessie, now in her teens, takes abode in unscrupulous company to keep her demons away as her relationship with her mother continues its downward spiral. But there’s still a ray of hope as a new boy enters Jessie’s life. Will Jessie be able to become her old self again? Phillips expertly explores the bonds and stresses of family and the importance of friendship. Although the ache of loneliness that Jessie feels after losing her father and friends breaks the reader’s heart, it’s heartening to see a shimmer of hope toward the end in Jessie’s life. Phillips beautifully depicts the heartbreak, trauma, grief, and self-doubt of a child who is forced to witness the ups and downs of her parents’ abusive relationship and their painful separation over the course of many years. The book starts with a brisk pace, and Phillips’ characters are multidimensional. Jessie is both vulnerable and courageous, and readers will find themselves rooting for her throughout the book. Patience, despite her less privileged background, is memorably individualistic, more so than Marie, who despite her bad experiences falls repeatedly for unscrupulous men’s charms. Although there is not much space for Patience in the story, she will win the reader’s heart with her gentle, affectionate ways. Although Jessie is the main protagonist, Marie’s struggles with loneliness and heartbreak and her desire to feel loved and needed are also depicted beautifully. The third-person narrative is mostly matter-of-fact, but Phillips keeps the pages turning and offers several twists and turns throughout the book that will keep the reader deeply engrossed in the story. Phillips expertly draws the heartbreaking portrayal of a broken relationship and its impact on a child and successfully creates an interesting, satisfying novel.
by Jenny Phillips
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd
PUB DATE March 29, 2019
PRICE $6.37 (USD)