My Husband’s Son – Deborah O’Connor

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples. Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.  By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is her husband’s long-missing son – but Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.  Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s search for the truth?

You would always recognise your own child, wouldn’t you?  Heidi and Jason are a married couple brought together by tragedy.  Both have suffered loss, Heidi’s daughter murdered and Jason’s son went missing, never seen again.  They have a connection with each other unlike other couples, only they can understand the hole left in each other by grief.  One day Heidi randomly stumbles across “Mikey” and her world stops turning for a moment.  She is sure he is Jason’s missing son Barney, he has the same long eyelashes and golden blond hair as her husband, for Heidi there is no mistake.  When Jason takes a look at the boy he immediately dismisses Heidi’s claim, he looks nothing like the age progression sketches forensic artists had provided Jason with.  Jason wants to move on and let the police concentrate time and resources on more credible leads, but Heidi cannot let it go.  Why won’t Jason even consider this possibility?  Why is Heidi so sure that this really is Barney?

The story continues as Heidi takes matters into her own hands and starts to investigate the boy and his family.  With her daughter’s 12th birthday fast approaching Heidi is finding things difficult.  The reminder of her daughter brutally murdered at the age of five is clouding her judgement, and she begins to go to questionable lengths to prove that Mikey is in fact her husband’s son Barney.

I very much enjoyed reading this book, and at parts found it difficult to read.  Being a parent myself I could only imagine the pain and anguish both main characters felt on a daily basis.  The story is told from character Heidi’s point of view, a woman who could understandably never be whole again.  Heidi’s loss defines her, and this only intensifies the obsession she has in proving that the boy really is Jason’s son.  As Heidi’s life starts to fall apart piece by piece the reader questions her motive, is she really trying to find Jason’s son, or is she purely driven by her own feelings of guilt and grief over her own daughter’s death?  There are some dark disturbing characters along the way, that made my stomach turn and I did genuinely wonder what was going to happen.  This story is every parent’s worst nightmare, and although there have been a few other books around just now with similar themes I found this one of the better ones.  I felt a lot of empathy for both characters despite Heidi’s irrationality and Jason’s clandestine behaviour and did hope they would get the happy ending they so desperately longed for.

The ending was very surprising, yet completely understandable and left me with a bittersweet feeling.  This a fast paced page turner that pulls on your heartstrings the whole way through.  4 stars from me.

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