29 November 2014

Book Review: One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson

"After Polly ends her relationship with the father of her young son, Louis, she is determined to move on. All she wants is to focus on her job, her friends and to be a good mum. No more looking over her shoulder. No more complications…

Then Polly meets Ben.

Ben is guardian of his niece, Emily. They become close, with Polly teaching Ben how to plait Emily’s hair, and Ben playing football with Louis. Their friendship is unexpected. Polly’s never been happier.

But when Louis’s dad reappears in their life, all Polly’s mistakes come back to haunt her and her resolve weakens when he swears he has changed.

Will she give herself a second chance to love?"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy One Step Closer to You as a paperback or an eBook now.

One book I have been looking forward to this year has been Alice Peterson's latest novel with publishers Quercus, called One Step Closer to You. I have read quite a few of Alice's books before, and they have always been very enjoyable reads, so I was very excited to read this one and find out if this would be her best novel yet. I have to say this was a very emotional book, not easy to read in parts but well worth persevering with and seeing through to the end, because it's a novel that will touch you and stay with you for long after turning the final page.

The focus of the book is single mother Polly, who adores her son Louis to the moon and back, but is hiding a horrible past from him and also from herself in a way. She's determined to make her life better, to turn things around and she certainly thinks she has done that when she meets Ben at the school gates. He's guardian to his niece Emily who has lost her mum, and he is struggling to cope with this young girl who has suddenly arrived in his life. Together, their friendship blossoms, and the pair begin to rely on each other more and more. But when a figure from Polly's past makes a shocking reappearance, will she be able to stay strong for both herself and Louis?

While I will be honest and say that I had guessed very early on how it was all going to end, it isn't the ending in this book that matters at all. It is actually discovering the journey of the characters within, and how their lives have got them to this point so far. Of course, Polly is the main focus of the book. I really warmed to her from the start and the relationship she has with her son Louis is touching. I admired how she had turned her life around, recognised her past mistakes and tried to put things right for her small family. The things Polly has had to deal with is enough to ruin a person, yet she takes refuge in her family and manages to pull herself through. Her backstory is told slowly throughout the book, giving us hints here and there of what has gone on, but when all becomes revealed, it is shocking and tough to read, you have to wonder why she allowed it to continue for so long.

The blossoming relationship between Ben and Polly is the main story of the book, and I loved reading their friendship grow. Ben really was a fish out of water, caring for his niece as well as being devastated at the shocking death of his sister. Peterson really taps into his despair and sadness so well, you feel his emotion along with him and you can understand why Polly wants to help him become a father to Emily. Polly and Ben are both damaged people, yet find solace in each other and this was deeply touching. I was hoping against hope that they wouldn't be torn apart because they were just a tonic for each other, and I was just praying for that happy ever after for these pair, more so than I have for a long time when reading a book.

Peterson really does tackle some tough and gritty issues in this book, and while I don't want to mention them as it gives away too much about the story, I would hope it isn't something many of her readers would have to go through themselves. Therefore this is a glimpse into a world I know nothing of, and am grateful not to know after reading this, it's an awful thing, but I enjoyed how Polly, with the help of her fab aunt Viv and her wonderfully kind-hearted brother Hugo (one of my favourite characters in the whole book) was able to get through it and find the sunshine on the side. An incredibly touching emotional rollercoaster of a book, but one that I cannot hesitate to recommend - one of the best books I have read this year.

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