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on 17 August 2015
It will pull your heat strings
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2012
Like twisty, turning plots that will keep you on your toes? Well then Someone Else's Life is for you! I honestly can't imagine what was going on in Katie Dale's head as she planned this story or how on earth she kept up with it all but it's very, very clever. Every few chapters she hits you like a bolt out of the blue with another great twist, leaving me open mouthed.

Someone Else's Life follows Rosie as she comes to term with the death of her mother from the hereditary condition Huntington's disease and discovers that she isn't actually her mum after all. Katie Dale doesn't take a gently, gently approach. I was surprised at just how brutally honest Someone Else's Life is from the very beginning. Her characters are complex and flawed, and react in human ways, which aren't always pleasant but are believable. This kind of book could easily get wrapped up in over sentimentality but Dale doesn't give into it.

I knew absolutely nothing about Huntington's disease before reading this book. Without overwhelming the reader with medical jargon we get an insight into the terminal disease and genetics, which was very interesting. But this isn't just a book about a family ripped apart by illness or a quest to find biological parents. It throws up many other questions along the way. Is knowing your fate being forewarned or is it better to enjoy your life while you can? How much does biology make a family or is is it down to more than DNA? Can changing the fate of others ever pay off even if you truly believe you are doing the right thing? as well as many others. Yet it manages to never be preachy and the questions are drawn from the readers themselves rather than thrust upon them from the author.

For such a complex book, Katie Dale manages to keep the story easy to follow and uncomplicated, even when the lives of the characters most definitely are. I've seen this book described as Picoult for a younger generation, and I'd agree it has some elements of Jodi Picoult's novels. While I think it is more accessible though, Someone Else's Life doesn't simplify things and would appeal to both teens and adults alike. This is a gripping, emotional roller coaster with a very real and human cast. It does border on the over dramatic at times, and things fall into place a little too easily now and then, but over all I thought this was a very clever plot well done. I certainly couldn't put it down and thought long and hard about some of the issues it raised, most particularly would I want to know if I was going to develop a horrendous illness sometime in my future? If you enjoy emotional, contemporary fiction, twists and turns and thought provoking subjects you'll enjoy this book.
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After watching her mother deteriorate and die from Huntington's disease, Rosie must face up to the fact that she has a 50% chance of inheriting it. She knows that she can't bear not knowing but then her neighbour drops a bombshell. Rosie isn't Trudie's daughter. Armed with this new knowledge, Rosie knows she can't have Huntington's but should she try and find her real mother? Rosie's search for the truth brings with it some tough choices. Does she continue living a lie or risk ruining the lives of others?

It's apt that one of the characters ends up a soap star in Someone Else's Life because that's exactly what the plotting and pacing felt like. There is so much going on and it moves from one revelation to the next. There are secrets and lies, but all of a sudden they're out in the open and then there's something else. And drama at every turn. Which is fine, if you like soaps, but I didn't think it allowed for any real tension to build up and none of the topics were dealt with in much depth. Yet it was still rather compulsive reading and I made it to the end.

The narrative is shared between Rosie and an anonymous teenage girl who is facing an unplanned pregnancy. Rosie's story leads you to make assumptions about the second narrative that may not be true. One thing that was realistic, even if it meant for less of an enjoyable reading experience, is the self-centredness and selfishness of the teenage girls. The world revolves around them and they can't seem to put themselves into the shoes of others. I'm not quite sure this gels with Rosie's role as a caregiver. Often teenagers in that position grow up very fast.

And as for Rosie. She doesn't take long to get over her mother's death. I don't care if she did have a shock at finding out she wasn't her biological parent, she would still grieve. But no, she goes off on her own adventure, her only thought for her mother that she's relieved she won't face the same fate.

There was a whole other story to be told; one where Rosie gives up her education in order to care for her dying mother. I thought there would be more flashbacks but after the background is set, it's only mentioned in passing. Whilst the book gave a basic impression of Huntington's disease, it did seem to make it look like a common condition. Both main characters go to a clinic that appears to specialise in it and with waiting rooms full of patients displaying symptoms. I'm pretty sure most people would go to their regular doctor and are unlikely to come into contact with other sufferers without seeking them out through help groups.
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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.
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2012
This book was pitched to me as Jodi Picoult for teens and with Jodi being one of my all-time favourite authors I just had to try this YA equivalent. Now that I've read Someone Else's Life I would certainly agree with that statement, debut author Katie Dale writes an honest and moving account on hard hitting topics such as grief, and Huntington's disease to name a few in this gripping family drama.

What I loved best about this book is that instead of focusing on friendships and relationships this books main focus is on family in all its glorious shapes and sizes. I found that really refreshing for a young adult book and whilst there was a brilliant love interest for our heroine Rosie in the form of Andy the boy that she loved and gave up as just one of the many sacrifices she made in order to become a full time carer to her mum whose recently died from Huntington's. What I loved most was the focus on family and the lies we keep to protect those we love.

Katie Dale tackles a wide range of controversial topics and I loved the many layers to this book. Right from the start your thrown this massive curve ball in the plot and as you read on the problems just snowball there are so many twists and turns, the plot constantly changing and developing right until the final pages. I was gripped by the many secrets that make up Rosie's life and found it impossible to put the book down.

Someone Else's Life reads as part contemporary and part mystery and so offers something new and different to the YA genre. The book is told from Rosie and a mystery person's perspective, I found Rosie to be a really strong inspirational heroine and right from the beginning I had a huge amount of respect for her for practically giving up her life in order to look after her mum. I also loved reading from the perspective of the mystery character, for the first part of the book, because I had no idea who they were and I loved trying to suss out the mystery behind that, and once they're revealed because I found their point of view fascinating to read from and they actually ended up being my favourite character and who I connected with most.

I could talk about how much I loved this book and why all day but because its very mystery orientated I'll leave it there as I don't want to give away any spoilers! But if you're looking for a book that makes you feel ALL THE THINGS you should check out Someone Else's Life, Katie Dale is certainly an author to watch!
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on 11 March 2012
Being a frequent library goer myself,this book caught my eye after browsing.After reading the blurb and not being interested i decided to put it down.Another visit to the library,the book was still there and something was pulling me towards getting it-i gave into this feeling. I can honestly say i don't regret this at all.The book being 473 pages long, i did get tiresome at some points but was so deep into the storyline, determination became very overpowering. This book was fantastic,it was heart-warming yet informative. I felt very emotionally attached to the characters and think that the characters them self felt very real to me.The constant twists and turns made it virtually impossible for me to guess and ending- which i kind of liked as it gripped me more!:).The only downside for me; and it is a really small negative,was in my opinion that there was quite a lot of twists and turns in this book- i know i have just said i enjoy twists and turns, but i feel there is a limit,and some of the twists were very dramatic. Other than that, a fantastic book, a huge recommend to people, and i just wish katie dale did more books- she's is now one of my authors!:)
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on 12 February 2012
SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE is that unique blend of beautifully written prose, engaging story and pacey narrative. Dale manages to hook you from the first page and keep you guessing until the last. The story has depth and heart. I highly recommend it.
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on 26 June 2012
I did wonder whether or not I would enjoy this, being a 40 something mum of two, when the book appeared to be aimed at the young adult market.
Well I did! Very much. I really enjoyed how the author kept twisting and turning the plot - at no point did the story become predictable, neither was too much 'teen speak' used.
I have no experience of Huntingdon's but felt it was probably handled well in the storyline. The main characters, even Holly at her worst, were really loveable - in turn vulnerable and strong.
If my daughter grows up showing the characteristics of either girl in the story, then I will feel I haven't done too bad a job as a parent!!
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on 25 May 2012
One of the characters in the novel is a soap opera actress, and , for me, this had the addictive quality of the best 'car crash' soaps. I read it in one sitting.
The narrative alternates between the point of view of two girls who were swapped at birth. Our sympthy flips between them too, as the consequences of that swap play out.
It gets a little breathless towards the end, with a rapid denoument that has shades of farce. But by that point I so wanted to know the outcome that I didn't care.
A really promising debut and well worth taking to the beach for a satisfying summer read.
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on 19 March 2012
This is a beautiful book about love and loss that will stay with you for a long time!

I recommend this book to everyone who loves a good cry/heart break story!
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