The Way Back to Us: The book about the power of love and family
By Kay Langdale
Perfect for readers of Adele Parks and Maggie O’Farrell, The Way Back to Us is a powerful, heart-breaking novel about modern life and all its challenges.Tweet
Anna and Tom are parents of two young children, Teddy and Isaac. When Teddy is diagnosed with a life-affecting genetic illness the family begins to fall apart as each member tries to cope in their own way with both the prognosis and the ever-increasing difficulties of care for him. Tell-tale signs soon escalate as routines become disrupted, priorities change and family life suffers. Anna bears the brunt of the responsibility, giving up work to care full-time for Teddy. She becomes obsessive in her vigilance to the exclusion of all else and her emotions are stretched taut to breaking point. Tom is in a difficult position as he tries to juggle work and home life but it becomes apparent that he is not going to be able to do anything right in Anna’s eyes and the tension between them is palpable. Isaac is a lovely, placid child who copes admirably when “Mummy’s” attention shifts almost exclusively onto Teddy. He adores his younger brother and will do everything possible to make his life easier and more enjoyable. He alone really understands what Teddy wants out of life and he works effortlessly towards achieving this without humiliating Teddy because of his limited mobility.
The story is written from the point of view of multiple voices, primarily Anna, Tom and Isaac, with infrequent input from Teddy. We are made privy to all their angst, fears, and frustrations.
There are two issues that I had with this book. The first is that it was just so depressing as Anna and Tom are just so unhappy. The only saving grace is that Isaac does introduce glimmers of joy when it his turn to “speak”. In addition, the whole family scenario creates awkward interpersonal relationships which are portrayed brilliantly but which do not make it a comfortable read. Whilst I think the author has done a fantastic job of envisaging what I am sure are very real emotions felt by people in this situation, and also managing to convey those feelings to the reader, that doesn’t necessarily make it an easy or enjoyable book to read.
I’m not sure whether to recommend this book or not. A holiday read it certainly is not, but the author expertly captures the less tangible problems which can arise from looking after a family member who has a life-changing. It is interesting, perceptive and, ultimately, uplifting. You will need to make your own mind up on this one.