Aussie Book Review: Into My Arms by Kylie Ladd

Into My Arms
My Rating:               4 / 5
Format:                   Uncorrected Bound Proof courtesy of
                               Allen & Unwin & The Reading Room
Publication Date:    May 2013
Category:               Literary Fiction
ISBN:                      9781743314586
Imprint:                   Allen & Unwin
Extent:                    352 pages
RRP:                      AU$29.99

The Blurb

“The kiss ignited something, blew it into being, and afterwards, all Skye could think about was Ben.

One day a woman meets a man and falls instantly and irrevocably in love with him.  It hits her like a thunderbolt, and she has to have him, has to be with him, regardless of the cost, of the pain of breaking up her existing relationship.  She has never felt more in synch – or in love – with anyone in her whole life.  So this is how it feels, she thinks to herself, this is what real love feels like.

It’s like that for him too; he wants her in a way he’s never wanted anything or anyone before:  obsessively, passionately, all-consumingly.

She has found her one true love, her soulmate, and he has found his.

What happens next will tear them apart and unleash havoc onto their worlds.

This brave, brilliant, electrifying novel from the acclaimed author of After the Fall and Last Summer will move you deeply and shock you to your core.  Love, lust and longing have rarely wielded such power, nor family secrets triggered such devastation.”

Summary and Thoughts

*Please note that this review is based on the uncorrected proof provided to me by the Publisher and that it may differ slightly to the final published version*

I am not a fan of book reviews that end up spoiling a story for another reader and, while Kylie Ladd doesn’t hesitate to give us some teasers in the first few chapters, and the plot is revealed fairly quickly, I have still been faced with the challenge of writing this review without spoilers which, to say the least, has been difficult because Kylie Ladd has indeed created much food for thought, and conversation.

Skye and Hamish have been together for quite a while and although their relationship appears to be set in stone and the path to their future inevitable, everything is threatened when Skye, assisting two Grade Five classes one day a week to create a wall mosaic for their school tuckshop area, meets Ben, a teacher at the same school.

Their first meeting, following a small medical emergency in class, has her feeling sure that she has met him before, but on asking the question, it becomes clear from his reaction that they have not.

Two weeks later, the concern for a young Iranian boy, whom they both teach, brings Skye and Ben together to discuss him, then, after yet another encounter when “the kiss ignited something, blew it into being”, Skye finds her thoughts becoming totally consumed by Ben.  Breaking off her relationship with Hamish, Skye and Ben enter into a relationship which smoulders from the pages of this novel.  They are totally in-sync with one another and the attraction is like nothing either of them has ever felt before.

Skye’s mother Nell, having lost her husband (Skye’s father) six months prior, only wants happiness for her daughter but, when she meets Ben for the first time, she can’t help the disturbing unease which plagues her.  Ignoring her instincts until she can no longer, she begins to make enquiries of her own which lead to a shocking discovery that will have you reeling in both disbelief and sorrow as the strong bond which has developed between Ben and Skye shatters and a family is torn apart by a secret they felt was theirs to keep.

Unable to comprehend how this has happened, Ben quits his job and disappears from Skye’s life and, just as she helped her class build a mosaic from fragmented pieces, she attempts to rebuild her dismantled life with what remains of her, until disaster strikes in another form, ultimately bringing them together again, in more ways than one.

There is a sub-plot to which the blurb gives no allusion, and that is the plight of Zia, a young Iranian refugee boy, who has come to live in Australia with his parents and youngest brother.  Living in a commission housing complex and going out of his way to please his father at the expense of his education, while his mother suffers from crippling depression, he is connected to both Ben and Skye through their teaching, as well as Skye’s twin brother, Arran, through his work in social services.  While I did feel that Zia’s story was a bit out of place on the whole, there is no doubt that the feelings and emotions he and his family experience on their journey add cohesion to the strong themes of loss, grief, depression and familial ties that bind, which weave their way throughout the narrative.

In the same vein as Jodi Picoult, albeit less formulaic, Kylie Ladd has framed her novel around a morally complex issue which, in today’s world, could quite possibly be a time bomb waiting to go off.  With great insight and empathy, Ms Ladd has touched on a subject that some could find confronting, but for this reviewer, the desperation and emotions of her well fleshed out characters touched me to the core and I couldn’t help but feel the deepest sadness for everyone involved.

This deftly woven literary exploration of love in all its forms, longing for the impossible and family secrets long held, is a haunting reminder that seemingly innocent decisions in the past can all too easily shape our futures.

I wish to thank both Allen & Unwin and The Reading Room for providing me with an Uncorrected Bound Proof of this novel.

A Little About the Author (take from her website)

Kylie Ladd holds a PhD in neuropsychology and is a novelist and freelance writer.  Her essays and articles have appeared in The Age, Griffith Review, O Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Medicine, Kill Your Darlings, The Hoopla and MamaMia, among others.

Kylie's first novel, After the Fall, was published in Australia, the US and Turkey, while her second, Last Summer, was highly commended in the 2011 Federation of Australian Writers Christine Stead Award for fiction.

Her two previous books are Naked: Confessions of Adultery and Infidelity and Living with Alzheimer's and Other Dementias.

Into My Arms, her third novel, has been selected as one of Get Reading's Fifty Books You Can't Put Down for 2013.

Kylie lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children.


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