Review & Giveaway: Second Chances by Charity Norman

Title: Second Chances

Author: Charity Norman

Published: Allen & Unwin July 2012

Synopsis: In the quiet of a winter’s night, the rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. He’s fallen from the upstairs verandah of an isolated farmhouse, and may not last the next few hours. At first, Finn’s fall looks like a horrible accident; after all, he’s prone to sleepwalking. Only his frantic mother, Martha McNamara, knows how it really happened. And she isn’t telling. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Martha only wants the best for her family. That’s why she moved heaven and earth to move them to the other side of the world, to start their lives afresh. And now she’s faced with decisions she never dreamed she’d have to make, decisions with potentially devastating consequences. She’s torn between her loyalty to her family and her need to protect them. What do you do when your dream escape turns into a nightmare – and is there ever a way back? Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from July 03 to 04, 2012 — I own a copy  {Courtesy Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:

Second Chances is a moving, heartbreaking story of family tragedy. Martha has moved her family from London to New Zealand in a bid to start fresh after her husbands business collapsed. Her four year old twins, Finn and Charlie are delighted with their new home, Kit has stopped drinking and is painting again, only 16 year old Sacha is having trouble settling in. Desperate to believe that she has made the right decision for her family, Martha ignores the signs of her daughters discontent until one tragic night threatens to destroy them all.

Set in and around Hawkes Bay, a small town in New Zealand, where the author herself in fact lives, Second Chances opens as Martha sits anxiously at the bedside of her critically injured son, Finn, who has been rushed to hospital after a fall from the balcony of their home. From there, the novel alternates between the past, building to the events immediately preceding Finn’s injuries, and the present, delving into the lives of the McNamara family. Narrated in the first person by Martha, wife to Kit (Christopher), mother to twin boys, Finn and Charlie, and teen daughter Sacha, Second Chances examines a family whose new life in paradise becomes a nightmare. I don’t want to inadvertently give too much away, as the suspense in the story relies on the slow unfurling of past and present. It is enough, perhaps, to suggest that Martha is a women keeping many secrets, and those secrets threaten to tear her family apart.
The characters in Second Chances are realistic, flawed yet in ordinary ways and sympathetic as a result. Martha and Kit’s relationship has its ups and downs but there is love and commitment at its core. They are both loving parents though Martha tends to be more overprotective, especially where Sacha is concerned. Sacha is Martha’s daughter but not Kit’s, she has never known her biological father and Martha claims her pregnancy was the result of a one night stand with a man she never saw again. I thought Norman rendered the complex dynamics of the family skillfully and I believed in their reactions and motivations.
Second Chances also explores important social issues such as unemployment, relocation, mental health and substance abuse and the author provides insight into their effects on an ordinary family. The novel challenges the smug mantra often espoused by the middle class ‘this couldn’t happen to me or mine’.

A compelling story, Second Chances is an emotional and thought provoking read. This is a book that I’d particularly recommend to parents of young adults but I believe it will appeal to any reader who enjoys fiction that examines a family in crisis.

Available to Purchase

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About the Author

Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law in the northeast of England. Also a mediator, she is passionate about the power of communication to slice through the knots. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand.

Enter to Win

Allen & Unwin is offering Australian readers the chance to win

1 of 5 electronic copies of Second Chances via Book.ish

Required To Enter:

Leave a comment below

and include your name, email address and state +1

(You do not have to include the email in the comment body as long as you fill in the email field when you comment)

For extra entries:

+1 tweet or facebook this post Use the icons below to make it easier and please provide a link

+1 Add Second Chances by Charity Norman to your reading wishlist

Total possible entries = 3

*NB. Open to Australian residents only*

Entries close July 21st  2012

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. booksinthesun
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 08:04:23

    This sounds great and I’m always keen to support writers here in NZ. How sad the competition is for Aussie residents only and not Aussie & NZ.



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 06, 2012 @ 11:35:31

      Sorry about that, unfortunately it is out of my hands in this case since the publisher is providing the prize directly



  2. Heidi
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 10:35:23

    This book sounds just like the sort of novel I like – would love to be in the running to win a copy 🙂



  3. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 10:39:50

    This one sounds very moving. I’m woefully poorly read when it comes to NZ authors, so thanks for taking the time to read and review this one–it’s always nice to be alerted to a new author.



  4. Mystica
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 12:22:47

    Entering with an Aussie address pls (if that makes me eligible) please count me in. Thank you for sharing. (State Victoria)




  5. Angie S.
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 13:54:35

    Looks fantastic! Even though I am not eligible to win I wanted you to know it’s going on my wish list right NOW!



  6. brendat59
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 14:10:43

    I would love a copy of this book, thanks so much Shelleyrae! When I read your review, I thought it sounded like one I’d enjoy:)

    NSW + on my TBR list + on FB:)



  7. lauredhel
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 15:09:02

    I’d love a copy! I’m in WA, and have added it to my wishlist.



  8. Bonnie
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 00:30:33

    Wow even the blurb got my heart racing. This sounds like an incredible story!



  9. the book mystress
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 09:35:14

    yay im from nsw and it’s on my tbr pile, x



  10. Teddyree
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 20:20:02

    Definitely my type of read, thanks for the wonderful review and giveaway. I’d love to win a copy 🙂

    Sheree QLD
    I tweeted
    and added Second Chances to my GR wishlist.



  11. Michelle
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 17:10:30

    Hi Shelleyrae, I have tweeted but can’t put it on my wishlist and am not entering the comp but I wanted to let you know that I really like your review. 🙂



  12. Cyndie
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 09:59:05

    I would like a chance to win a copy of this book.
    Cyndie NSW



  13. Nancy Walshe
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 12:01:50

    We spent three months in Napier last year and bought Second chances. Coming from British Columbia Canada this book brought so much of NZ and Hawkes Bay to life for my husband and I. It is a heart wrenching, emotional read and loved it. I cried as the book ended. Highly recommended.



  14. Trackback: Review: The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman | book'd out

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