Just an Ordinary Family by Fiona Lowe

‘No one tells you that being a mother’s both exhilarating and terrifying.’

Four women, four very different stories. Karen Hunter is the mother of twins Libby and Alice.  Even now they are both grown up, she wants to protect them.  And there’s Jess Dekic, Libby’s closest friend.  Closer to Libby than Alice, Jess has been around the Hunter family for so long that she’s considered family.

Alice returns to the tiny seaside town of Kurnai Bay after her relationship fails. She’s unemployed, and envies Libby her life as a doctor, a happily married woman with two children.  Karen worries about Alice: she wants her to succeed. Jess, a single mother with a young son, is also in Kurnai Bay.  Libby’s daughters and Jess’s son get on well together.  But things are about to go wrong, for each of the four women, in very different ways.

‘Luck was such an arbitrary event—one person’s luck was too often another person’s misfortune, but she couldn’t think about that.’

Secrets, medical issues, betrayal.  They are all part of the story that unfolds in Ms Lowe’s novel. Just when I thought I’d figured it out, there was another twist, another issue to be faced.  Karen will need to revisit the past, while Jess and Alice will need to come to terms with quite different futures.  And Libby will have some issues of her own to confront.

‘Sometimes the means justifies the end.’

There were times when I found the number of issues in this novel to be quite overwhelming.  Yet Ms Lowe makes it work drawing our attention (along the way) to several significant and confronting life issues.  Be warned: both happiness and sadness make several appearances, and some readers may find some aspects unbearably sad.  Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride.

I finished this novel with mixed feelings: a number of the characters had become part of my life.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin HQ Fiction for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith