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Sunday 2 March 2008

In Search of Adam

by Caroline Smailes

I first heard about this book on the internet last year and didn’t think I could bear to read it. The subject matter of child sexual abuse, suicide, mental illness and self harm seemed just too bleak. But then I read some reviews and realised that this book might be special. I bought it, read it and was blown away.

Jude Williams, aged six, wakes up one morning and finds her mother dead in bed, a note by her side which reads …gone in search of Adam… This is the beginning of a lifelong quest for Jude and a struggle to make sense of a world which treats her so badly. Caroline Smailes has captured the voice of an abused child to perfection. Along the way we understand so much more than Jude herself and we just long to hug and protect her, to tell her that someone is finally listening now.

It is, of course, not a comfortable read and you will need your tissues, but the innovative use of language and typography brings a touch which lifts the novel out of the ordinary and draws you right into Jude’s head. When you get to the end, you read the author’s thoughts and realise that there are further layers of meaning you had missed along the way.

Caroline Smailes has also recently published a complimentary novella, Disraeli Avenue, consisting of snapshots of the lives of the other inhabitants of the street where Jude lives. It is available here as a FREE download, with the option to make a voluntary donation to a small charity, One in Four, which supports adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. A charity that is so called because apparently one child in four suffers like Jude. Through Disraeli Avenue, we can all help to make a difference.

reviewed by Catherine Walter

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