Friday, 19 February 2016

Aussie Book Review: All That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster


“Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret – one that is isolating her from everyone she loves. She is desperate to tell her best friend, but Sophia is ignoring her, and she doesn’t know why. And before she can find out, Sophia is left fighting for her life after a hit and run, with Georgia a traumatised witness.

As a school psychologist, Georgia’s mother Anya should be used to dealing with scared adolescents. However, it’s very different when the girl who needs help is your own child. Meanwhile, Georgia’s father is wracked with a guilt he can’t share; and when Zac, Georgia’s younger brother, stumbles on an unlikely truth, the family relationships really begin to unravel.

Georgia’s secret is about to go viral. And yet, it will be the stranger heading for the family home who will leave her running through the countryside into terrible danger. Can the Turner family rise above the lies they have told to betray or protect one another, in order to fight for what matters most of all?

Set against the stark, rugged beauty of England’s Lake District, All That is Lost Between Us is a timeless thriller with a modern twist.”

Georgia has a secret that she’s desperate to share with her cousin and best friend, Sophia. Before she gets the opportunity though, the two girls and a friend are involved in a hit and run accident which leaves Sophia in a coma and Georgia in a state of turmoil, wondering if her secret is the reason why the unknown driver was on the road that night.

As she continues her preparations for the new school year and the annual Fell Running Championships and, possibly because of the typical self-absorption of adolescence, she doesn’t realise that the remainder of her family are being shadowed by problems of their own

Her mother, Anya, is not only trying to figure out why a chasm has developed between herself and Georgia but is also preoccupied with the fact that her marriage to Callum seems to be falling apart; Callum is wracked with his own guilt as he harbours a secret that could tear his family apart forever; and Zac, Georgia’s younger brother has stumbled across a photograph that is going to cause him no end of worry as he struggles to decide if he should confide in someone or not.

Sara Foster writes taut psychological thrillers which tend to ask big questions and that's one of the things I love about her writing. Having had the opportunity to read all of her books, it's no secret that I'm a fan.

In All That is Lost Between Us, Sara’s Lake District is alive with fell running, explosive secrets, teenage angst, parental anguish, marital disharmony, emotional turmoil and fracturing family dynamics.

While plot development, pacing and projecting an evocative sense of place assist in generating plenty of suspense, it is Sara’s innate talent for exploring the vast palette of human emotional states that is outstanding.

In particular, I found myself relating to and sympathising with Anya’s struggles as both a mother and a wife, not only stumbling through the miasma that most of us with children will undoubtedly sooner or later have to traverse, but also having to cope with the fact that her marriage is flailing. Her first person narrative is full to the brim with introspection – wondering why Georgia has distanced herself from her and when she began to have difficulty talking to her; the lack of communication that exists between her and Callum; the longing for someone to snuggle up to in the evenings, perhaps making her dinner and asking how her day has gone; and her loneliness and fears that once her children leave home she will be the one sitting waiting for Callum to get home from work.

Georgia’s character too is so astutely written that readers won’t be able to help but feel a close connection to her as she stumbles through the quagmire of late adolescence - her first romantic relationship, the last year of school, the build-up to the Fell Running Championships and for the position she finds herself in - and my heart absolutely tore.

Going back and forth in time and alternately shifting points of view between Georgia, Anya, Zac and Callum, we see her characters struggling to maintain the familial bonds that are fast unravelling as she slowly peels back the layers to reveal their pain, confusion, inter-personal isolation and the insecurity of youth, at the same time laying bare the hopes of a parent, the frustrations of a husband and wife, the fears of their children and the destructive nature of secrets on the family unit.

A well-written, multi-faceted and engaging psychological suspense novel that will captivate readers on multiple levels, this is an intriguing exploration of contemporary family relationships, motherhood and human frailties that  is propelled by one question: What is Georgia running from?

I wish to thank Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with a hard copy ARC for review.

About the Author

Sara Foster was born and raised in England but she's always had family connections to Australia and they visited the East Coast a few times during her childhood. Her introduction to Australian literature was reading All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato. After that, she wanted to be Delie Gordon for quite a while and, in 1999 made sure that she stood next to the wheel of the Philadelphia paddle steamer when they visited the Murray River region.

Her first pop concert at age 12 was a Stock Aitken and Waterman event featuring her first love, Jason Donovan. She was on a high for weeks afterwards but little did she know that twenty years later, she would end up editing his autobiography.

Before Sara was a writer, she worked as a book editor, at first in-house at HarperCollins UK and then freelance. She has edited and proofread well over 100 books, fiction and non-fiction, including novels by Paullina Simons, Kathryn Fox and Liane Moriarty. She was also one of the original editors of the Kids' Night in Book series, which has been raising money for War Child since 2003.

Sara is a huge fan of dystopian fiction and is currently studying the genre for her PhD at Curtin University.

She also loves marine animals and, in the past (before children!), she's been a keen scuba diver. She's played with baby sea lions, penguins and marine iguanas in the Galapagos, scuba dived with Galapagos reef sharks and hammerhead sharks, glided with manta rays in Coral Bay (WA) and the Similan Islands in Thailand, encountered huge potato cod and graceful mink whales on the Great Barrier Reef and swum with the mighty whale sharks of Ningaloo. She has experienced the absolute joy of being surrounded by wild dolphins in New Zealand and WA waters and had a very special experience of a dolphin "buzzing" her while she was pregnant (using concentrated echolocation to 'see' the baby).

In 2011, Sara went to Japan while researching Shallow Breath (my review here) and visited Taiji, the town famous for its horrific dolphin drives. She was only there for two days and didn't have to witness the brutal hunt up close, although she watched the banger boats drive the dolphins in from a distance. She did, however, encounter the dolphins in captivity in the sea pens, being broken and starved while trained for human entertainment. They are images that will stay with her forever.

She is also the author of Come Back to Me, Beneath the Shadows and Shallow Breath.

Sara lives in Perth, Western Australia, with her husband and two young daughters.



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