The Awkward Age - Francesca Segal Review

I have to hold my hands up and say that joining in with the Mumsnet Book Club has been eye opening and enlightening. I never actually realised how great the books would be. How a bit of diversity in my reading would have me so enthused. And that's coming from someone that literally spent a whole year reading kids books and teen fiction. 

When the May book dropped on my doorstep I was probably the most intrigued about it. I had some ideas in my head about what the story would entail and was excited about reading what happened to this family. The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal was one that left me in a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions.

The Awkward Age is based around Julie and James, two adults that come together with teenage children that seem to have taken an instant dislike to each other. Julie and her daughter Gwen are still recovering from her husband's death years ago, whilst James and his son Nathan have flown over from across the pond and are thrust into suburban British life. With both adults hoping that this will be the second chance of happiness, will the children behave, or make things awkward.

I have to be honest and found reading the book slightly uncomfortable at times. I think it was the way that everything that happened seemed to be with a fair amount of intensity. The rollercoaster of mundane family life seemed amplified and almost suffocating at times. Especially when it came to Nathan and Gwen's turmoil and relationships. You seem to feel a buzz of tension coming off every page, and the feeling of unease gets worse the more you read. But you can't look away no matter how much you want to and that's something I love in a book.

With everyday seeming like an emotional minefield for this family, it gets ten times worse when the unthinkable happens and as a parent I really struggled with how James and Julie reacted and treated their children at times. I know it's supposed to be an awkward read, but some of the stereotyping and prejudice hit home and I found I couldn't really connect with many of the characters. Upon reflecting on the book, I feel like that's what it's supposed to be like though. No one is the perfect likeable person, we all have our flaws and whilst some may root for us, others may not.

I think this book is more about sacrifice than anything. The sacrifice that Julie and James had to make as parents, the sacrifices that Gwen and Nathan had to make to appease their parents and follow their own dreams. The sacrifices of the extended family when this household made of an atom bomb explodes and affects everyone around them. Yes teenagers are quoted as being of an awkward age, but I truly think no one get's out of that stage and each set of characters truly had their own awkward moments and flaws that matched.

This book was a heart wrenching one. A book that left me thinking about it days after I finished reading it. And one that I probably won't forget for a while. Whilst it wasn't my favourite of the Mumsnet books, it was most definitely one that was written like a true family saga that left you feeling literally like a fly on the wall. Francesca Segal truly captured the highs and lows of a blended family and thrust her readers into a harrowing and poetic world that everyone can relate to in some aspect. A book that will hit home and give you a web of emotions and truths that will be uncomfortable but addictive to read.

*Note, this was gifted as part of the Mumsnet book club, all opinions are my own.

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