Book Review: Follow After Me by Allison Marlow Paterson

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Follow After Me, Allison Marlow Paterson, Big Sky Publishing, April 2019.

Blurb:

Two young women, a century apart, are mysteriously connected by a tiny key. Will they discover who they are and where their hearts belong?

2018 – Tired of being the perfect daughter, student and sister, Lizzie abandons old friends and safe-choices for a risky and life-changing relationship with the dangerous and charismatic Brandon. Watching his classmate fall into a trap, Nick tries to intervene. But is it too late? Will Lizzie listen?

1916 – Evie’s dreams are torn apart by war. As her childhood sweetheart Tom leaves to serve his country, she gives him a small key, the key to her heart. He promises to return the tiny talisman to Evie. Will Tom keep his word? Can Evie muster the courage to defy family expectations and pursue her dreams?

In this powerful story of courage, passion and heartbreak, Lizzie and Evie discover that finding a lost part of yourself may just come from the spirit and the actions of those who came before.

An intriguing tale of serendipity, hidden stories and invisible bonds stretched across time.

 

Review:

Raw. Open. Honest. Heartbreaking. Controversial. Captivating. Inspiring. Powerful. Impressions made by Follow After Me.

A story of family tragedy set in the World War 1 era combined with a story of the struggles in finding identity in a more modern-day time; however, both laced with hope, empowerment and love that intertwines in the most fascinating way. Yes, Follow After Me contains alot to process – shock, heartache, intrigue – which author Allison Paterson brilliantly brings forth with the perfect level of tension.

Paterson’s alluring language and synchronised dual narrative absolutely pulled me in to dimensions of multiple emotions that many books rarely possess. She explores and raises many, and some fairly evocative, concepts, too, including womens’ rights and equality, peer pressure, modern-day social media pressures and sexual assault. Certainly topics up for discussion for today’s mature adolescents, particularly with respect to the current #MeToo movement.

But ultimately, Follow After Me is an intriguing and cleverly weaved culmination of history and fiction; including inspired real life letters of Allison’s five war hero ancestors (as documented in her award-winning Anzac Sons), and also parts taken from her own upbringing as written for the 2017 narrative. I especially appreciated the special connections of the ‘key’, the ancient scar tree and the similarities in strength and adversity that tied the two young women together; Evie in 1917, and her great-granddaughter Lizzie in 2017 – who both grapple with testing relationships, personal choices, family life challenges and self identity / worth despite living decades apart.

Follow After Me delves deeply into the profound. On multiple levels Allison Paterson’s personal connections are certainly felt, and the way she writes allows each of her readers to discover their own connections as well. Her key sentiment is one that rings wise and true; (from her interview) “look to the past and be inspired by the strengths and actions of others, then go ahead and forge your own path.”

This is one of those books that contains intense moments that truly cut to the core, but oh, an absolute page-turner that readers from age 14 and up will willingly ‘follow’ to the end.

Review by Romi Sharp

‘Walking in their footsteps’ – shoes found under the floor at the old Marlow house

 

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Allison Paterson: website | facebook | instagram

Follow After Me: Big Sky Publishing


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