One Step Too FarOne Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

emily seems to have everything going for her: a loving husband ben, an adorable young son, and she is pregnant again. so why does she decide to walk away from it all, leaving her wedding ring in crewe station and move into a grotty flat* with too many roommates still in the slapdash stages of their lives—where they are still figuring it out and living in gleeful squalor?

does it have something to do with her twin sister caroline, whose behavior has always been problematic? does emily have a deep dark secret? what could cause her to leave behind every stable thing in her life and embark on a journey of what will become one part self-discovery and many parts self-destruction?

this is rhetorical, i’m not going to tell you, because the secret is what drives the novel.

the secret which causes the author to have to do some very deliberate early-stage obfuscation, if not flat-out deception. and that’s okay, that’s the author’s prerogative, but the secret, although devastating to the characters, is not really necessary as a plot device, except to keep the reader turning those pages. i think it would have worked fine as a more straightforward story that just told the tale of a woman trying to shut out a trauma, and taking some unconventional paths to find herself again.

but that’s editorializing.

so, after some conveniently easy name-changing, emily becomes “cat,” and after a rebirth courtesy of IKEA, she finds herself a job where she discovers hidden talents, but also develops a shoplifting-and-drug habit that is going to eventually land her into a whole heap of trouble, along with her new friend/flatmate angel, who is both accurately and ironically named. but who says “babe” way too much.

the story is told primarily through cat’s eyes, but there are other, shorter POV chapters from her mother, her father, her sister, angel, and briefly, ben.

the book does a good job keeping the reader guessing, and the multiple POVs give a more rounded perspective than had it been told from cat’s viewpoint alone.

particularly strong are caroline’s narratives, because she is a character who has lived one of those roman candle existences, pissing off so many people along the way, but in her own voice, we see a more vulnerable figure than she comes across, and she has her own problems that make her more sympathetic to the reader, problems that she hides under her bluff exterior which protects her.

but i think she is treated a little unfairly.View Spoiler »

i think fans of anita shreve or jodi picoult would enjoy this book—it’s a solid women’s fiction book about family and tragedy and getting in over one’s head, and hopefully coming out of it with a new understanding of how fragile our connections can be.

*oh, yeah, this is a UK book, so i am allowed to use UK slang!

read my book reviews on goodreads

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