Other People’s Houses by Kelli Hawkins

‘I pulled over just in time.’

Ten years ago, Kate Webb lost her five-year-old son Sascha. For ten years, Kate has been marking time, taking refuge in alcohol, searching. She is held together, sort of, by her job and by attending open houses on Sydney’s north shore. In those homes, prepared for sale, Kate can imagine the lives of complete, happy families that live there. Then one afternoon, hungover, Kate visits the Harding house. It is a beautiful house, occupied by a husband, wife, and their teenaged son. Kate sees a family photograph: a husband, wife and son and thinks, for one heartbreaking moment, that the boy is her son. Kate recognises the wife: she and Kate were at university at the same time.

Curiosity turns to obsession. And Kate’s obsession uncovers that life for this family is not perfect. As Kate starts to intervene in the life of this family, we learn more about her life and the death of her son. His death was a heartbreaking tragedy: can Kate prevent something similar for this family? And, importantly, can Kate make a new life for herself?

To write more about this story could spoil the impact of it. There were a couple of twists I didn’t anticipate, and one I did.  I kept reading, wanting to know how it would end and hoping Kate would find renewed purpose.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith