Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Mother by Hannah Begbie Review #mnbookclub

Mother is the story of a family of three, Cath, Dave and their daughter Mia who is a very long awaited child. Cath and Dave had tried for a baby for years, before looking to IVF, which failed many times before she was finally pregnant with Mia. 

I was her mother. I had given her life.
I was her mother. I had given her a death sentence.
Those were the fundamental facts of it. 

The book opens with Mia's diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis (CF), and Cath spiralling out of control. She blames herself for her daughter's illness, and is incredibly hard on herself because of it.

Cath goes to a parental support group for parents of children with CF in order to better understand the disease, and to chat to other parents who get what she and her family are going through. It's explained very clearly at this point of the book that children who have CF cannot meet as they carry bacteria which could be deadly to each other. It's important that their parents also make sure they do not touch either, to minimise the risk to their own children.

Mother by Hannah Begbie Cystic Fibrosis

At the support group, Cath meets Richard, a debonair father of a daughter with CF.  Richard is confident that there will be a cure for CF, and he immerses himself into all the literature and research to follow the progress. He gives Cath hope that her daughter will one day be cured. At this point in her life, when everything is falling apart around her, Cath clings on to that hope and becomes a spokesperson for parents of children with CF.

I have to admit that I didn't like Richard's character from the beginning, and although Cath was easier to like, so behaves so illogically, it's hard to identify with her too. Their inevitable affair is toxic, both to themselves, but also their families. It puts the lives of both of their children at risk.

reading mother hannah begbie

Cath has understandably struggled with relationships since her daughter's diagnosis. This is particularly noticeable in the strained relationship she has with her mum. The book follows Cath's journey to find acceptance in her daughter's diagnosis. To be able to function as a family without freaking out at the smallest thing. It is an incredibly rocky road, and one which is difficult to follow.

The book flowed easily and I finished it very quickly. It was painful to read at times, watching someone self-destruct and the impact it had on the families involved. Hannah Begbie raises awareness of CF brilliantly. The way that she writes depicts the huge difficulties around diagnosis and acceptance. It also emphasises how lonely the disease can be, especially as children suffering cannot meet each other. I enjoyed the book and thought it was written in a way that was thought-provoking, as well as accurately depicting the way life can spiral out of control in tough times.

Disclosure: I was sent this book as part of the Mumsnet Book Club. All opinion is my own.

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