Book Review: Home by Kate Hughes

“You need to come and get my daughter. She’s not safe anymore.”

For Sophie, life with her daughter has never been easy. Rosie’s extreme autism has made her unpredictable and often difficult. Like most mothers though, her first instinct has always been to protect her child and keep her close. However, when Rosie’s escalating violence culminates in a terrifying incident at home, Sophie is faced with a choice that no parent ever wants to make. A choice that will inevitably plunge her into a set of unimaginable new circumstances which will test her to the limit.

A true test of a mother’s love.

Could you send your child away?

What I Thought:
From reading the description, it’s instantly clear that Home is not going to be a light summer read, but although it deals with an impossible situation, in which no parent would wish to find themselves, it does so in a compassionate and in no way sensationalist way.

The depth of detail and compassion for the main characters makes sense when you read Kate’s afterword, as the heart of the story – a severely autistic child who is put into residential care for their own safety and wellbeing – has its roots in her own family.

Sophie, as a working single parent, trying to manage two daughters, one of whom is autistic, is entirely relatable – she’s doing her best and feeling like she’s failing, but hanging on to the bright moments in her life with her two daughters. In some ways, when she makes the decision to have Rosie taken into residential care, relating so much to Sophie makes it more agonising as you can’t help but wonder what you would do in the same situation. Thankfully it’s a decision that most of us will not have to make as, as Sophie falls apart after making it, I’m sure most people would too.

At one point, even though deep down she knows that Rosie’s care is the best for her, Sophie and her older daughter, Chloe, Sophie says that she feels like Rosie has died as she’s missing from the family home and they are all expected to move on with their lives without Rosie at the centre of them – this whole section is heartbreaking to read and imagine.

Though the whole book details with a sensitive and difficult subject, it is handled with care and no judgement – the only person judging is Sophie herself. It certainly brought me a new perspective on the care of autistic children. There is a great deal in the media about the rise in autism diagnoses but they seem to very much focus on children, forgetting that they do grow into adults with the same issues and challenges.

As I said, Home is not a comfortable read, but it is a compelling and compassionate one, and well worth your time.

Home is self-published by Kate Hughes, and you can connect with her Twitter.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book, by the author, for review purposes. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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