I’m thrilled to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the incredibly moving Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen. Thank you to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this beautifully written, devastatingly honest and thought provoking book. This is a book that touched me on a very personal level and my review reflects that. Thank you to Katie Allen for writing such a powerful and moving debut.
About the book:
A beautiful, poignant and enchantingly funny debut, inspired by journalist Katie Allen’s own experience of stillbirth and grief.
Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenching portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life-affirming and, quite simply, unforgettable read.
About the author:
Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’.
Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects.
When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.
I knew going in that Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen was going to be a hard book for me to read, but nothing could have quite prepared me for just how cathartic an experience it would turn out to be. This isn’t going to be an easy review for me to write, but I’ll do my best to put into words just how much this book means to me on a personal level and why I found it to be such an emotional read.
Nine years ago next month my firstborn grandson was stillborn. Even now, all these years later, I find those words difficult to write. I know what it’s like from the point of view of a grandparent, but I’ve also seen the devastation the death of a much loved baby can (and continues to) do to both of the parents. I also know that grief is a very personal thing and that everyone deals with it in their own way.
I can relate to so many of the things that happen in Everything Happens for a Reason and even had to stop reading it from time to time as I became so overwhelmed by emotion as the memories of the past came flooding back. Beautifully and sensitively written by Katie Allen, it is clear from the outset that the author has had experience of baby loss herself, with her portrayal of grieving mother Rachel so authentically real that it took my breath away.
But as incredibly moving and thought provoking as it is, Everything Happens for a Reason is also a story filled to the brim with humour and the ups and downs of life, touching on themes of family relationships and friendship as Rachel begins to navigate her way through life after loss. Told in the form of emails to the baby she lost, her much loved son Luke, the reader is given a personal insight into the thoughts and feelings of the bereaved mother as she tries to find meaning at the loss of her son.
So when a well meaning person comments that ‘everything happens for a reason’ Rachel’s thoughts turn to what that reason could possibly be? And her mind goes back to the day she found out she was expecting Luke and she stopped a young man from jumping to his death in front of a train. She soon becomes obsessed with the idea that saving this man somehow cost her the life of her son and, desperate to find him, enlists the help of Lola who was working on the underground that day, soon becoming close to the single mother and her seven year old daughter. When she eventually tracks the young man down, things begin to unravel in ways Rachel could never have expected…
Everything Happens for a Reason is a devastatingly honest portrayal of grief that is as cathartic as it is painful. Katie Allen’s writing is beautiful, telling an important and incredibly moving story that needed to be told. I honestly can’t even begin to find the words to say how much this beautiful story touched me. It is so heartbreakingly real and is a book that I will never forget.
An outstanding debut that I would highly recommend.
This review is written in memory of my beloved grandson Joey, born sleeping on 16th July 2012. Loved, missed and remembered always.
Sometimes there is no reason. And that is the most heartbreaking thing of all.
Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen is available to purchase now.
Check out what these other lovely bloggers have to say about this book: