‘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…Doesn’t it?’
[ About the Book ]
When Rachel’s baby is stillborn, she becomes obsessed with the idea that saving a stranger’s life months earlier is to blame.
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.
[ My Review ]
Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen was published June 10th with Orenda Books and is described as ‘ an unforgettable, heart-wrenching, warm and funny debut…‘
There are many books that get under the skin of a reader for various reasons and Katie Allen has written one such book. For anyone who has lost a child the pain must be unbearable. Although a fictional story about one woman’s struggle to cope following the stillbirth of her baby, Katie Allen uses her own experience to add authenticity to Rachel’s character. The pain, the incomprehension, the grief are all unique but the one element that is common across society is the inability of others to deal with the aftermath. We have all heard expressions such as – ‘Life goes on….doesn’t it?‘ ‘It was meant to be.’ ‘And sure look it was probably for the best.’ But for any parent, moving on is not so simple.
On a visit to a graveyard recently, a scene was recounted to me of a young woman standing sorrowfully at a small plot adorned with a small headstone with a simple message. The picture described to me was so very poignant and really made me stop and think about the sadness that that woman was experiencing. It was only a snapshot of her day but it’s an image I found hard to shake. Katie Allen has brought this woman alive to me in many ways through Rachel, a mother-to-be who had followed the rules and had embraced her pregnancy with joy and excitement. But Rachel’s life was upended when her baby, Luke, was stillborn. Trying to make sense of this is all she can do so, while on maternity leave, she writes emails to Luke, expressing her feelings, her anger, her daily frustrations through this method of communication that gives her a platform to roar.
Rachel has an epiphany one day when a comment is made to her in relation to Luke’s death that ‘everything happens for a reason‘. She wonders the truth of this statement and tries to put reason to her experience. Is there a reason for the death of her beautiful baby boy? Did she unwittingly do something in her past that had a domino effect on her future? And then she remembers. During the very early stages of her pregnancy she saved a person’s life, stopping them from jumping in front of a train. She never discovered who it was and now she wondered if she had unwittingly traded Luke’s life in order to save this stranger from an inevitable death.
Rachel embarks on a quest, writing about it to Luke in her regular emails, updating him on her project to find this stranger. With the assistance of a rail worker, Lola, she eventually makes contact with the young man who almost jumped that day leading her down a very unexpected path.
Everything Happens for a Reason is a very emotive and affecting read but it also has great wit littered throughout. Katie Allen has a wonderful turn of phrase giving Rachel a distinct personality that shines through in her conversations with herself and with others. She is a wonderfully quirky character, adding a great charm to the whole reading experience. The emails to Luke read like an inner monologue as her scattered thoughts are expressed along the way. Rachel has so much to grasp, so much to deal with. She fully embraces her mission to uncover if everything really does happen for a reason and along the way she discovers more about herself and her relationship with others. There is something extraordinarily intimate about Everything Happens for a Reason. It has an authentic and unconventional appeal that I really warmed to. A powerful story that will resonate unfortunately with too many, Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen is an important book that engages, entertains and will really touch every reader who picks up a copy (which I of course recommend that you do!)
[ Bio ]
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.
Twitter ~ @KtAllenWriting