Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you them in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.
Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone while facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter to grow up without her.
Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have.
From one of my favourite writers and powerhouse behind The Motherload Book Club, Laura Pearson comes one of my absolute reads of the year 2019. Heartbreakingly honest and devastatingly realistic I Wanted You To Know is the kind of novel that sears itself into your heart and won’t let you go. All I can say to you is – buy it for yourself – but make sure you buy yourself some tissues first…
Jess has barely embarked upon adult life herself – she’s 21 years old and finding her feet as mum to baby Edie – when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. The first few months with her baby are dedicated to chemotherapy and metastases, rather than soft play and baby and toddler groups.
Jess decides she needs to use this time now to write letters to Edie and explain to her who her mum is so that Edie will always have a sense of her and the things that were important to her for perpetuity. These letters totally draw us into Jess’s world, detailing the story of how she fell for Edie’s dad, Jake, and the reasons that they aren’t now together as a couple, combined with her hopes and fears for motherhood in these terrifying and unpredictable circumstances that she finds herself in.
I don’t think I was fully prepared for the emotional punch of this novel! I mean, I read the reviews and heard all the praise, but I don’t think I’d grasped how it would affect me as I was reading it. It definitely moved me to tears more than once and the authenticity of its voice is the thing that will push you over the edge. We never stop believing that both Jess and Edie are real and I could not forget that there are so many people out there who are living with these exact circumstances, despite these characters being fictional. Gemma is Jess’s best friend from her youth, who really is one of those everyday heroes who you might have met in real life – if you’re lucky – she helps her look after Edie, supports her in her medical appointments and is always there to boost her mood and make her laugh – even when the going gets tough.
Just as we get an insight into Jess as a mother, we also get to see the impact of her cancer diagnosis on her relationship with her own mother – as a daughter. This was a really moving aspect of the novel and we get to reflect on the way that illness can shift everything in people’s lives beyond all recognition. Cancer is undoubtedly something that affects all of our lives in one way or another and it’s even more moving when you know the story behind this breathtakingly accomplished novel – Laura herself was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35 – when she was literally 5 months pregnant experiencing those exact thoughts, that if she died, her children would possibly not even remember her. I think this is why I really felt this book so deeply – every word feels true and will cut you to the quick at times. This book would be a profound and moving book to discuss with your book group and would be sure to elicit a wide range of personal and emotional responses.
Thanks so much to the wonderful Peyton at Agora Books for inviting me on the blog tour. I loved getting involved with the hashtag on Twitter and letting people know that we should definitely make every second count.
This post is in honour of the late, beloved Catherine Rodger. Who certainly did x
Buy yourself a copy and prepare to be utterly moved by this wonderful read.
Writer On The Shelf
Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She spent a decade living in London and working as a copywriter and editor for QVC, Expedia, Net a Porter, EE, and The Ministry of Justice. Now, she lives in Leicestershire, where she writes novels, blogs about her experience of breast cancer (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), runs The Motherload Book Club, and tries to work out how to raise her two children.
Catch up with Laura on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraPAuthor