Book Review | The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer, Ilsa Evans

Goodreads Blurb:

Beth’s daughter Cleo and Shirley’s son Daniel used to be married. Now Cleo is in gaol for supposedly contravening a family violence order, and Daniel has full-time care of their four-year-old daughter, Avery.

When Shirley suspects that Daniel is harming Avery, she enlists Beth to abduct their own granddaughter, even though the two women can’t stand each other. They are joined on the run across country Victoria by Winnie, Shirley’s own 89-year-old tech-savvy mother, and Harthacnut, Beth’s miniature schnauzer.

The abduction gives rise to crises both personal and social, as Shirley’s large and interfering family – including her toxic son – struggle to come to terms with her actions, amid a whirl of police investigation and media excitement. This heartfelt, wise, witty and wholly original novel explores of the lengths we may go to for those we love, and the unintended damage folded into daily life.

My Thoughts:

This was such a wonderful novel to read. I was hooked after only having read the blurb – bad-ass grandmothers who aren’t on good terms working together for the safety of their granddaughter? This is exactly the sort of plot I can get behind. This novel had a perfect balance of complex family drama, well-tailored humour, and deep, complicated emotions, making it a trundling rollercoaster of a read. Within the drama and humour though is a story exploring some heavier topics, which, through this platform, are explored in a way which shows the more emotionally taxing side of family drama like this.

It was really interesting following the story of these grandmothers on the run as they do everything in their power to protect their granddaughter. Especially as they are the most unlikely pair to take on anything of this nature. Their age aside, Beth and Shirley can’t stand each other, which makes their dynamic fascinating to read within the circumstances of the novel. Each woman has her own approach to their situation, and so creating clashes as well as moments where their styles compliment each other to great results. The groups journey is a wild ride from start to finish, all under the close watching eye of the Australian public who both cheer for the run away grannies and in some cases sympathise with the ‘betrayed father’ image which Avery’s father shows the public.

Every character was so vibrant, and full of life which made this so much more interesting to read. I loved how nearly every character had a chapter written from their point of view. At first, when I realised that this was how the novel was going to be set out I had concerns that the novel may feel choppy and disconnected. Having finished the novel I realise that the story couldn’t really have been written any other way. Each perspective is vital in telling a unique perspective on the situation and how it is being played out. Each character’s voice was executed very well, and shone it their own way. This story telling style worked especially well as it allowed the reader to see the story from the onlookers in the form of the media and the Australian public.

My one small issue with this novel is that it felt like there was a lot of content in the middle which could have been covered in much less time. Yes, some of these parts were important to the development of the budding friendship of Beth and Shirley, but I felt as if they could have been shortened slightly so the novel didn’t feel quite as drawn out. In saying that though, every moment of character development I did love to read, I just felt like there was so much of it that it took away from the flow of the drama of the whole situation.

This was such a beautifully written and fun read which I will very happily read again in the future. I recommend this to anyone who wants a read with great, well fleshed out characters set in a complex family drama which is elevated by the humour and realtionships throughout.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Harlequin Australia for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy) in exchange for an honest review. This title was published 1st September 2021.

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