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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 16 star ratings
4 reviews
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4.2 out of 5
16
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Another great from Beech!

    Another great one from Louise Beech. I looked this up after loving How To Be Brave. Not disappointed. Same great writing style and even more of a page turner!
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Beautiful & moving story of a child in foster care

    ‘The Mountain In My Shoe’ is a beautifully moving story which looks clearly at the importance of family, and the honesty, innocence and surety that can be found by looking through the eyes of a child. The styling is unique, the prose most poetic at times, and Conor’s story one of continual rejection and upheaval that will likely make you shed a few tears along the way. That said there are moments of pure joy throughout as well, and elements of humour too. The story is told by three very distinct voices which is what gives it that unique, honest feeling. First you have Bernadette’s story, told in third person narrative which makes some of what she has endured more bearable to hear. Next up is Conor, told in first person with the kind of uncensored honesty that could only come from a child. The unwavering faith, despite everything he has been through, and the inability to engage the brain before the words flow from his mouth. And the final voice, the most unusual of them all, is the book. Yes. A book. More precisely Conor’s life book, a book given to him at birth to track all the key milestones during his time in the foster care system. It includes official reports, letters from foster carers and even from his birth mother. This book is a perfect segue way from Conor’s past to the point in time where we meet him today. But it is also one of the most moving parts of the whole story as we begin to understand just how many times Conor has been moved along having become too old, too neglected, or too inconvenient, until he finally settled in his current home with Anne. It is hard to read at times, but sadly not a unique story. It is empathetically written but enables the reader to feel a true sense of what life is like for foster children everywhere. Not all of Conor’s carers are perfect, but there is so much love for him in these passages, something so refreshing to see in a world so quick to critizise the care system. Please do not feel tempted to skip these passages. They really, truly matter. Conor is a brilliant character, his story is so moving and forms the largest part of the text. He is obsessed with Mohammed Ali and boxing after he was introduced to it by one of his foster brothers and, in fact, this fascination is where the title is drawn from. He loves to draw, with almost perfect recall, and hates to leave things half finished. His character is informed but not dominated by his past and he is a truly loveable young boy. But probably what my Nan would have called a rapscallion too. You are invested in his story and his future from the very start. However, Bernadette’s story is just as compelling. You can feel the claustrophobic nature of her marriage, the gradual manipulation of her husband to control her every move. It is the little things rather than any big obvious elements of violence which add a level of authenticity to the book. Her shock discoveries throughout are reflected in her fear of Richard’s retribution when he finally gets home. She is alone and isolated and Conor and his foster mother Anne are her only lifeline. The desperation she feels in thinking she may have lost Conor too is palpable. The descriptive narrative feeds a clear understanding of the location and the circumstances in which these characters live. The apartment in which Bernadette and Richard live is a perfect metaphor for the decay and neglect which exists in their marriage and add to the tone, the atmosphere, of the book itself. This book is a mystery, yes, but so much more than that too. Was I truly shocked by the truth as it emerges? No. But I don’t feel I needed to be, as everything that surrounded it, that built that most tragically hopeful picture of the lives of our two protagonists, made this book perfect. You don’t need big shocks to surprise. And this book is proof that sometimes the most simple imagery, the single pebble in your shoe feeling like a mountain, can capture spirit and meaning far more than a dramatic reveal ever could. Simply stunning.
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    The Mountain in my Shoe

    Loved this book. couldn't wait to see what the next chapter would bring.
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    Stupendous!!

    Knowing Louise Beech's penchant for creating such poignant and emotional stories based on true life or realistic events, I just knew I was in for a fabulous read and I had my tissues at hand just in case. Oh my! Well, she did it again - wrote an absolute belter with her debut book "How To Be Brave" and now with the moving and powerful book "The Mountain In My Shoe" she surpassed my expectations and had me gripped to the pages unable to put it down. With a very intriguing title and a beautiful cover this book has EVERYTHING, and if I could award it more than five stars I would. Blurb - A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself...... On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. I loved this story, a psychological thriller tied with an emotional family drama that was touching, poignant and stunningly written. It was such an ingenious way to incorporate a 'LifeBook' into the narrative and it really explained so much regarding how the foster system works and enabled the reader to get so close to Conor and feel every emotion. The author has a fabulous way of bringing her characters to life and each of the characters in this book appeared to me so clearly I could have been standing next to them. Sadly, so many children find themselves in the same position as Conor, I myself know of these situations having a close neighbour who has fostered children for many years and I've seen first hand the sort of problems that arise. Just knowing Conor had people looking out for him and wanting to give him love and support gave me such happiness and during the last couple of chapters I had a permanent lump in my throat and tears in my eyes - Louise, you owe me a box of tissues and a LOT of therapy!! Louise Beech is such a talented writer and deserves all the praise and recognition she receives, she has fast become a favourite author of mine and I so look forward to reading more by her in the future. More than 5 stars!!!!
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