Armed with one broken heart and a (borrowed) sausage dog, Rachel is on a mission to find out why her baby was born sleeping.
Because Everything Happens for a Reason…
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, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenching 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.
Hi and welcome to my review of Everything Happens for a Reason!
I had been looking forward to reading Everything Happens for a while, but I was also feeling more than a little trepidation – not the first Orenda book I pick up feeling this way, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It’s a tough topic, isn’t it, stillborn babies? And I was so afraid Everything Happens would be a tearjerker from start to finish, especially knowing that although it’s fiction, the premise came from personal experience, as Katie Allen had a stillborn son herself.
I’m not gonna lie, it does get emotional, but it does so in a rather matter-of-fact manner, if that makes any sense, which made it simultaneously more bearable and more heart-wrenching for me as a reader. Katie has written a main character who is obviously grieving but not in a blubbering woe is me sort of way, even though she has every right to be. Rachel is constantly making these kinds of dry remarks, expressing this dark sense of humour that literally had me snorting in my coffee. I deliberately started Everything Happens on a Saturday so it wouldn’t matter if I became a sobbing mess, I did not expect to be laughing more than crying.
Whenever something bad happens, whatever it may be, there’s always someone who – probably for lack of something better to say – tells you: everything happens for a reason. Is that ever a comforting thought though? How can it be, when you don’t have a clue what that reason might be? Why would an unborn baby’s heart just stop beating, what could possibly be the reason for that?! It’s a question Rachel becomes obsessed with. And to her mind, it all goes back to that one man’s life she saved when she stopped him from jumping under a train when on her way to tell her husband they were having a baby. Did she somehow, by preventing a suicide, forfeit her son’s life?
And so Rachel’s quest begins. Armed with her mum’s sausage dog, it will lead her to people she never expected to meet, to places she never expected to visit, to opportunities she never expected to have. It allows her to work through her grief, to try and come to terms with what happened. It gives her a purpose she sorely needed, after all what is worse than being on maternity leave without having a baby to care of, having the body of a mum without a baby to show for it?
Instead of the usual chapters, Everything Happens is composed of emails from Rachel to her stillborn son. It reads a little like diary entries, and since most are rather short, I found myself falling merrily in the oh-just-one-more trap. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: contemporary fiction is not my go-to genre. It often lacks the suspense, the thrills and the twists I love. Everything Happens though? Has all of that and a bunch of characters I fell in love with to boot!
Everything Happens for a Reason is the bittersweet story of a grieving but courageous woman trying to make sense of the cards she’s been dealt. Funny, sad, thought-provoking, I had an absolutely brilliant time with Rachel, and whatever Katie Allen comes up with next, I’ll be there to read it. Recommended!
Everything Happens for a Reason is out now in digital formats and will be out in paperback on 10 June. (Pre)order directly from Orenda Books here.
Huge thanks to Orenda Books for the beautiful proof copy. All opinions are still my own.