Another Us, Kirsten Hesketh, is focused around the loveable Emma and her family, which include three children, the middle of which is diagnosed with Aspergers in the opening pages. As her life becomes consumed with her son’s diagnosis, she becomes equally fixated on a statistic her husband shares that most marriages with an autistic child fail. Surely, her marriage couldn’t fail?
The protagonist and narrator is Emma. Emma feels familiar, as does her situation of a busy working mum to three children. You can imagine Emma milling around the playground and chatting with her as you follow her rather tumultuous life; she’d be ones of those mums that seems to be always going at 100 mph. The story reads at a similar pace, and before you know it, you’re in the depths of Emma and her story.
Emma, in short, is having a ‘mare! She’s inadvertently resigned from her job whilst scrambling around for a new one, her husband is working away, she fancies the new Dad, her teenage son is getting in trouble, and her daughter is emotional, particularly over friendships and playdates. As Emma and her chaos spin on plates, you begin to see them crash, but which will be mendable?
The story twists and turns through familiar events we all know: The PTA fundraisers, playdates, snatched moments at the childminders, eventful dinner parties with other parents all whilst we are seeing if Emma’s story ends with happiness and her family or will it all fall apart?
The novel is full of funny lines that will make you laugh, but also moments of reflection and sadness as Emma begins to make sense of son’s diagnosis and all it affects, including her two other children, her marriage and ultimately, herself. As the plot unravels and reveals, we know Emma is just trying to be the best she can, but sometimes, we can all get the wrong end of the stick. She has a brilliant supporting cast in her friends, family and ofd course, the hot new Dad.
This is an impressive first novel, with a tale that will be familiar to families up and down the country. With another lockdown approaching, there are worse things you can do than pick up this book.