A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself. On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all. Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.
Oh my days, what a book! I was saving this one for a rainy day, as it was my last Louise Beech. Only until her next book is out obviously, I sincerely hope that there will be many more Louise Beech novels to come, but this one was the last of her backlist, and I loved it and I hate that I have no Louise Beech left for a rainy day now, and I didn’t even listen to this one because it was a rainy day, but because I couldn’t hold off any longer (she wrote blubberingly while curling up in a little ball of misery because no more Louise Beech)
Anyhoo, before I start weeping in earnest, let me tell you a little bit about The Mountain in My Shoe. The main character is Bernadette and we encounter her frantically searching for a book. Not just any old book and not just on any old day either: this is the day that Bernadette is going to leave her husband Richard. As the story continues, we learn about the reasons why she would want to do that, let me put your mind at ease: this is not a story about abuse as such, although Richard is not exactly lily-white and I was just about ready to put him at the top of my characters-I-love-to-hate list (pantry scene, anyone?) when he redeemed himself. Kinda.
The book without which Bernadette can’t leave but that she can’t find for the life of her is a lifebook. For years, Bernadette has volunteered, without Richard knowing, for an organisation that connects foster kids to volunteers who are looking to befriend the kids, help them, be a safe haven. That is how she met Conor, and it’s his lifebook she’s searching for. This lifebook is full of notes and letters from caseworkers, foster parents, Conor’s biological mum, … and it’s a record of his life, so he’ll never have to question who he is, what happened to him, where he came from. Throughout the story we learn exactly that.
The third POV is Conor’s. I fell in love with him instantly. He is such a brave and loveable little man. But he gets into a car with a stranger who says he’s a friend of Conor’s mum and he’ll take Conor to her. Who is this man, and what will happen to Conor?
So a few chapters in, everyone and everything is missing: the husband, the lifebook, the kid, and I was hooked! If I had had a physical copy of The Mountain in My Shoe, I would have torn through it in one sitting. As I was listening to it, that was a bit harder to do, but still, I have never finished an audiobook this fast when being off work (= without the daily commute). I was finding new chores to do, I was listening in the shower, in my bed, anywhere and any time. The narrators are Colleen Prendergast (Bernadette), Ross Tomlinson (Conor), Andrew Wincott (the lifebook) and they do an awesome job!
So much suspense, so many emotions. All. The. Feels. Sure, I put two and two together and figured out most of the plot. You know what? I couldn’t care less. Start to finish this is such an outstanding book, narrated outstandingly as well. As usual, Louise made me care about her characters too damn much, I have come to expect nothing less of her, and the narrators (especially Conor) made it even better (or worse, depending on your POV 😉)
What more can I say, except: highly recommended!