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Book Review: Someone Else's Life

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Someone Else's Life
by Katie Dale

4 stars: Recommended
Format: Hardback
Publication: February 14, 2012
Pages: 512
Author: Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Buy it: Amazon Hardcopy | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.

Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.

There are two narrators, and you don’t find out the identity of the second narrator until the middle of the book. Until then, you can only guess at the narrator’s identity based off Rosie’s findings alone. The double narrative rounds out the story about the two girls whose lives were switched at birth. However, it does make it hard to fully get into any one narrative: because there are breaks in each narrative from when the other narrative takes over, we never fully get to know one girl.

Rosie is too indecisive. She loses her loving boyfriend Andy when her mom Trudy is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. Now that she’s gotten him back, she still hides things from him, unable to trust him with important details in her life. She wants her boyfriend, but she also wants the family that she discovers in America. I was afraid that she would end up losing everything out of her pure desire to find her birth mother.

In contrast, Holly doesn’t want to share, which made it hard for me to like her. On the one hand, most people would be distressed if they found out they weren’t their beloved father’s daughter and that his real one had turned up. On the other hand, she acts so out of hand—and out of cruel intentions towards Rosie—that I wanted things to turn out badly for her, even though she’s going through a tough time.

As far as parents go, Trudy sounds like a great mother. It is no wonder that Rosie is so devastated when she finds out that she wasn’t related to her, especially after having lived her life wondering if she would inherit Huntington’s. The same goes for Jack. Holly too takes the news hard when she learns that she lived someone else’s life for the past eighteen years. Both girls are going through a hard time, and both girls direct their energies into destructive channels.

Someone Else’s Life is the moving story about two girls whose lives become irreversibly changed when they learn that they were switched at birth. It is not an overly happy story. There is anger, frustration, despair, and resignation. And there is no real ending to this story. Rather, it is about facing your options and choosing your path in life.

3 comments on "Book Review: Someone Else's Life"
  1. This one look like a tear-jerker.

    I know it's probably awesome, with some great themes and interesting characters, also a unique theme.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. One question - did the ending leave you satisfied even if it didn't tie things up neatly?

  3. Yes, it did. I thought the ending was very appropriate for the story :)


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