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YA novel that couples Huntingdon's Disease with a swapped at birth storyline
on 17 February 2012
Rosie Kenning's lost everything. Her dad died the day she was born and now her mum's succumbed to complications from Huntington's Disease. Rosie decides to get tested for the Huntington's gene only for family friend Sarah to reveal that Rosie doesn't have it because Trudie wasn't her biological mother - Sarah swapped her at birth after Trudie's baby was born with complications and wasn't expected to live.
Deciding to search of her natural parents, Rosie ropes in her former boyfriend Andy to help. As they put together the facts about Rosie's past however, they uncover secrets with the potential to shatter the lives of people they haven't even met ...
Katie Dale's debut YA novel is a contemporary story that couples the seriousness of living with a genetic disease with a soapier swapped at birth storyline.
Dale competently handles twin narrative strands - Rosie's and an unknown female narrator who may or may not be Rosie's birth mother. I liked the fact that Rosie has to consider the implications of potentially having an incurable genetic disease.
Much as I wanted to like this book however, I didn't.
I found it overwritten, particularly the emotional descriptions which became repetitive and although Dale gave details of what Huntingdon's entails, it amounted to little more than a list of symptoms because she didn't really show what the disease was like. The plot moves through a set of repeatedly contrived circumstances - characters accidentally overhearing secrets or refusing to discuss things and waiting for people to find out anyway. The ending was a little rushed for my taste and I was disappointed that it ends with a key character opting not to make the choice that seems so central to the book.
Although I started off empathising with Rosie and her problems, the sheer selfishness that she displays later on really grated - particularly her refusal to consider the impact of her actions on anyone who may be affected. I didn't need her to be a saint, but for me she became so unpleasant that I lost all sympathy for her and I never really understood what Andy saw in her, given that she never saw the need to tell him anything unless she needed him to do something for her.
Ultimately although this book didn't work for me, I would be interested in seeing where Dale goes next and will check out her next book.