All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

 ‘Sometimes you can’t solve the problems you’ve helped to create.’

On the day that Eva Martínez-Green started school at St Hilda’s in London, two important things happened: first she met Bridget Blume; and secondly she was introduced to a book called ‘The Rainbow Rained Us’. Bridget becomes Eva’s friend, and the book has such a profound impact on Eva, that she asks her father to buy her a copy. Ms Feast, the class teacher, reads the book to the school. And from the story Eva realises that there are many different types of mothers. But somehow, Eva and her mother do not match. There are gaps in Eva’s life and questioning her parents does not help fill in these gaps. Eva wonders where she belongs.

Eva’s story unfolds over the next thirty years in London and in Spain. Her parents separate and a tragedy in Bridget’s family sees Bridget and her family move to Israel. Eva feels this loss more keenly as, for a while, she lived with the Blume family and experienced their acceptance and love.

What can I tell you about this novel, about the pain of searching for truth, about wondering who your parents really are and why you did not grow up with them? Or about growing up in a dysfunctional home, where truth is hidden (or ignored)? Eva’s journey is challenging and complicated. She observes (and experiences) different models of mothering during her quest. This is a novel about life, about belonging, and about mothering. Along the way, Eva meets several women who will have an important influence on her life. Not all are positive.

I was drawn into Eva’s story, and desperately wanted her to find the answers she was searching for. This is a beautifully written novel: painful in some parts, joyful in others.

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