I read The Second Child a couple of months ago over summer and deliberately waited until I had finished work for 2017 before I picked it up as I had an inkling that I’d loathe to put it down once I began reading.
And I was right.
This complex tale of two families is told by switching point of view between four family members, a technique that can annoy and confuse readers in a fast-moving tale, but that’s not the case here. The Second Child describes an unimaginable discovery that could shake everything two teenage girls hold dear to them, but, in an exquisitely slow, familiar way that almost leaves you feeling like the whole novel is playing out in your kitchen.
The (almost mundane) intricacies of family life are at the core of this debut novel, and I think those are what endeared me to this tale almost immediately. Sarah and Anne, both mothers, must navigate their families being thrust together out of circumstance (and a mean plot twist!) and decide how both their own futures and those of their daughters will take shape.
There are so many great discussion points introduced by Bond in this novel; how we define what it means to be ‘family’, our unwavering trust in the institutions that serve our first world society, the complexities of mother/daughter relationships, the far-reaching effects of the pursuit of perfection, particularly when using your family as the vehicle for this, and most notably, the discussion around organic human imperfections, particularly when they manifest as life-long disabilities.
The Second Child is an excellent read, a perfect Book Club addition as it’s characters are all so relatable yet full of the simmering, deep-seated emotions that are always present in any family.
I will be looking forward to future novels from Caroline Bond as I thouroughly enjoyed The Second Child.