Book Review: Home by Kate Hughes


Moving story of a mother’s agonising decision

About the Book

Description (courtesy of Goodreads): For Sophie, life with her daughter has never been easy. Rosie’s extreme autism has made her unpredictable and often difficult. Like most mothers though, her first instinct has always been to protect her child and keep her close. However, when Rosie’s escalating violence culminates in a terrifying incident at home, Sophie is faced with a choice that no parent ever wants to make; a choice that will inevitably plunge her into a set of unimaginable new circumstances which will test her to the limit. A true test of a mother’s love: could you send your child away?

My Review

The book opens with an arresting first section imagined from the point of view of Rosie. From that point on, the story is told mainly from the point of view of Rosie’s mother, Sophie. The author creates a realistic picture of what it must be like living with and caring for a child with extreme autism.  This is a form of autism very different from the common perception of autism gained from movies like Rain Man or books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, manifesting itself in very challenging, sometimes violent, behaviour.  The constant strain of never knowing how her younger daughter will react, when the next ‘meltdown’ will occur and Sophie’s fears for the future is convincingly communicated:

“The worry of it all never left her. From the moment she woke, to the time she fell into a weary sleep, the uncertainties whirled around, burrowing deep into her brain.”

After a particularly disturbing incident, Sophie is forced to confront the heart-breaking possibility that Rosie’s condition is such that, for her own safety and for the safety of others, she can no longer be cared for at home. The emotional toll of Sophie’s decision is convincingly portrayed. Similar to the feelings encountered following bereavement, Sophie experiences guilt, regret and even anger born of frustration that Rosie’s condition can never be cured and that the pain Sophie feels cannot be understood by anyone else, even by the most well-meaning of her family and friends.

‘Nothing anyone said or did could take this huge ache away from her. It wasn’t just the sadness, it was this vast ball of anger that seemed to be knotted up inside her…She couldn’t help it, she felt angry with everyone. And tired of it all.’

There are some interesting sections of the book written from the perspective of family members showing their differing reactions to Rosie’s condition and Sophie’s decision – these all rang true. However, some other aspects seemed to be a little too easy: a sympathetic workplace, lack of financial concerns. Also, I found my interest in the story waned slightly as it moved its focus from Rosie to the possibility of Sophie finding a new relationship. Everything seemed just a little too perfect at the end; although I accept the author was trying to inject an uplifting note to the book’s conclusion.

You can read Kate’s account of her personal motivation for writing the book here

Click here to buy a copy of Home

Book facts: 287 pages, publication date February 2017

My rating: 3.5 (out of 5)

In three words: Emotional, realistic, moving

Try something similar…A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

About the Author

kate-hughesKate Hughes is a teacher and writer. Although she has been scribbling away for years, it is only recently that she has had time to take it seriously. Mr Brown’s Suitcase was her debut novel. Home is her second novel. Kate lives in the UK with her husband, three children and a lively lilac tortoiseshell cat.  Follow Kate on Twitter