When I saw this book at the bookshop, which attracted me by the title rather than the cover, I did what I usually do, and glanced at the back cover. It mentioned an exchange student, and since I am a local co-ordinator for exchange students, it immediately piqued my interest.
When Abi, an English girl falls pregnant to an Australian exchange student, Stu, she thinks of the rosy life that many young girls do, and heads for Australia for a new life with him and their baby. Along the way she encounters the isolation and loneliness of being at home while her partner continues to finish a degree, work part time and to party with his mates. His family, particularly Stu’s mother, don’t help the situation. They work to separate the pair and encourage Stu to live back at home, leaving Abi with the baby alone in their flat.
Abi seeks out friendship at mother’s groups and meets a neighbour, Pyllida, a wealthy, but also lonely older woman with whom she spends much time, and who takes Abi under her wing.
But as life has a way of doing, things in both their families get complicated and things don’t always turn out the way you want or expect.
Lately I’ve read a few books which have been their firsts for novelists. This one was another pleasant surprise. It had me laughing and empathising one minute, thinking back to my kids in their younger years, and then it literally had me with tears streaming down my face. I can thoroughly recommend this one, and will certainly be looking out for Say it Again in a Nice Voice by Meg Mason.