Review: Someone Else's Life

Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
Release Date ~ February 14, 2012
Doubleday Canada ~ Random House Canada
ISBN13: 9780385670746
Review copy received from Random House Canada/e-galley from Net Galley

Goodreads Synopsis:
When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.
Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.

Someone Else's Life tackles some heavy issues head on, and Katie Dale isn't afraid to open up these discussions and question them. Abortion, adoption, teenage pregnancy, life-threatening disease, dysfunctional families, and law- all have their own part to play in this story and come together to form a bizarre turn of events.
Yet this combination of themes in one book means that it relies heavily upon shock and awe, and a number of twists throughout the story that further complicate matters and convolute the story rather which ultimately takes away from what could have been an exceptional novel.

  1. Huntington's Disease:
    I'm like the majority of people and I really don't know much about Huntington's Disease. Neither did Rosie, until her mom was diagnosed with it later on in life. Now, Rosie's life seems to revolve around Huntington's Disease, until she finds out an even bigger shock when she decides to get tested for this hereditary disease. But Katie Dale deserves huge kudos for dealing with and featuring a disease that very few people are aware of and this provides a great avenue for readers to learn about something new and unfamiliar.
  2. Rosie's growth and maturity over the course of the book:
    Confession: when I started reading Someone Else's Life I was seriously unimpressed with Rosie and how she chose to handle her grief. I was afraid I would have an extremely difficult time connecting with her, but she truly does grow up (by leaps and bounds) as the book goes on. By the end, I was inspired by Rosie and the hard decisions she had to make but how often she thought of those around her, yet kept her own needs and desires in mind. She isn't completely selfless (so few people are), but she is thoughtful and considerate.
My main problem with the book began with the introduction of another character, Molly. There was too much focus on Molly, a character that I simply could not stand and I couldn't bring myself to care for her because she was just so frustratingly immature and bratty. Yes, I know Molly had her own difficulties to overcome. But the difference in attitude and actions between Molly and Rosie is striking, and really makes it easier to dislike Molly when one compares her to Rosie who is just so much easier to like. Similarily, I found many of the characters to be a bit back and forth in their attitudes, especially Rosie's ex-boyfriend. Nobody seemed to be able to make a decision they could stick with and so the story just dragged on.

And while I did enjoy the number of twists in this book, after a while it just got to be too much. It seemed as if every possible bad thing that could happen had to happen, and that characters had to react in the worst possible way just to amp up the drama. It wasn't necessary and it didn't feel realistic; it was far too implausible and while I can handle some improbability this just got to be too much. I think that was the ultimate reason why I didn't enjoy Someone Else's Life as much as I wanted to: I had a hard time buying into the story and its characters, so consequently it just fell flat for me.

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franchie15 said...

Aww. Sad. I've been wanting to read this because the premise of the book is really striking. But I think that's a problem when a minor character is getting in the place of the major one! Hmpf. But I'll try to read this. :) Thanks for being honest, Brenna!


Precious said...

Aww, sorry you didn't like it! This has been in my wishlist for months. My friends really liked it, too. But now that you mention Molly..I have to think twice. Great honest review!

Angkarina said...

The story sounds really sad and emotional. I've always struggled reading books like this, because I simply don't like reading books about diseases or adopting and I tend to avoid them...
Thank you for the review anyway!

angkarina_angkasuwan at hotmail dot com

Christina Kit. said...

It's too bad you didn't like this book. I've heard mixed reviews on this and I guess there are other issue books out there that seem to have gained more popularity.

I do appreciate books on adoption as they're not very widespread.

Thanks for the review!

ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. This book felt like a giant soap opera and I too got tired of all the overly dramatic reactions.

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