Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.
If books were meant to fall into your hands at exactly the right time in your life, then this would be one of them.
I absolutely adored Everything Happens for a Reason and I’ve thought about it a lot since finishing it last week. It’s the perfect mix of being wonderfully readable as well as realky thought provoking and is the perfect read for this summer as it will definitely make you think positively about everything you have, rather than all the things you wish might be a little bit different
The characters and situations in this book are difficult to convey in a review as they feel so very real that you definitely get the sensation that you’ve lived through these difficult events right alongside them.
Rachel is a character that you really connect with, an ordinary girl who’s lived through such extraordinary events, I loved the fact that even though the book deals with such heart wrenching subject matter, that it’s dealt with so eloquently that you feel that it’s akin to having lived through this situation right as she does.
Suicide and stillbirth are triggering subjects for many people, but this book shouldn’t be avoided because of that. Sometimes it’s the case that books that make you live through things like that give yiu the same feeling of catharsis that the ancient Greeks loved – the idea that once you have got through such challenging moments you feel that the elation and sense of overwhelming positivity you feel as a result are invigorating and wash over you like a burst of sunlight once you’ve closed the final page.
I loved the fact that this book was inspired by the novelists’ own experiences and I think it shows in that this subject matter is treated with dignity, respect and humanity throughout. It’s one of the phrases that I most hate myself as it tries to diminish the feeling of pointlessness and frustration that it’s so natural to feel when it seems like the inhumane universe is conspiring against you.
Living through these experiences makes you feel grateful for the small things in your life that are going right, as sometimes we can fixate on the things that are frustrating and make us feel like the world is against us at times. This novel and Rachels experiences make us see that we can all look on the bright side and be grateful that we have had far fewer obstacles in our pathway than Rachel has and that we can share her journey and realisations alongside her
If you enjoy a book that will make you think as much as it will entertain you then you will love this compelling and assured debut novel. This is a perfect summer read and you’ll definitely be sharing your thoughts and emotional responses with your friends. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a very long time and I can’t wait to see what Katie Allen does next.
It had a great deal of personal resonance for me, so please don’t shy away from this or worry that it will be ‘too much’
Its both an emotional and thought provoking book and I know that it will be a book that you’ll want to pass on as soon as you’ve finished it too
Writer On The Shelf
Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’.
Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.
‘Emotionally engaging, witty, clever and wonderfully satisfying’ Daily Express
‘A stunning debut … a wise, moving, and thought-provoking novel’ Susan Elliot Wright, author of The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood
‘A heartbreaking, deeply moving and wonderfully witty tale, which celebrates all it means to be human’ Isabelle Broom, author of The Getaway
‘A beautiful novel, bursting with raw emotional honesty and authenticity’ Gill Paul, author of The Secret Wife
‘So affecting. Profoundly sad. Funny. I just loved it’ Louise Beech, author of This Is How We Are Human
‘Darkly funny, yet poignant and moving … Rachel’s quest to find out if everything happens for a reason is both heartbreaking and heartwarming’ Anna Bell, author of In Case You Missed It
‘Some books teach you, others touch your soul, then there are books like this one that bury deep and create a home in your heart’ Emma-Claire Wilson, Glass House Magazine
‘A triumph … a book of hope and ambition and making sense of the world, a tale of acting spontaneously, living in the moment and throwing caution to the wind’ Isabella May, author of Oh! What a Pavlova
‘An incredibly important and beautifully written book. Bittersweet and brave, it will keep you both laughing and crying until the last page’ Kate Ford, actress, Coronation Street
‘The perfect mix of clever, funny and intensely moving’ Cari Rosen, author of Secret Diary of a New Mum Aged 43 1/4
‘A heart-wrenching, soul-lifting read about loss and redemption in unlikely places’ Eve Smith, author of The Waiting Rooms
‘Read it and weep but also, incredibly, find moments to laugh and to know there is life after death’ Julia Hobsbawm, author of The Simplicity Principle
‘Simultaneously devastating and hilarious’ Clare Allan, author of Poppy Shakespeare
‘A memorable, poetic read … The writing reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant’ Becky Fleetwood, author of the Chroma series
‘Quirky yet insightful, bright yet wistful, amusing yet emotional … full of contradictions that fuse into the most surprising, moving, and beautiful novel’ LoveReading
For fans of Jonas Jonasson, Matt Haig, Graeme Simsion and Rachel Joyce.
Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen is published by Orenda Books and is published 10thJune 2021
It’s available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org