Sarah Turner – Stepping Up

Disclaimer – I received this book in exchange for a review from NetGalley.

I had no idea what to expect from this book other than I have read some of Sarah Turner’s other books as The Unmumsy Mum. The cover looked intriguing but I went in completely blind as to the plot.

So by page 7 my heart was in my mouth waiting for confirmation of the awful news that Beth is waiting for too. All I can say is that the author did such a great job of making me feel connected to Beth in such a short space of time and when I got the news with Beth, it literally took my breath away. 

It’s definitely not usual for me to be so emotionally invested in a book that I am empathetically crying along with the character before I’ve even hit double digits on the page count, and I immediately knew this book was going to be gripping.

There will be potential spoilers from here on out so stop reading this and get yourself pre-ordering this if you’re interested!

The awful news that Beth has just been given is that her sister Emmy and her husband have been in a horrific car accident. Doug has died and Emmy is now in a coma.

Beth has not had the most stable of lives – flitting from one job to another and never finding a steady partner to settle down with – her parents think she is a complete flake and a perennial quitter. So it’s a surprise to everyone when they find out that she is named as guardian of her niece Polly and nephew Ted.

What follows is a very steep learning curve as Beth learns how to look after a teenager and a toddler, both of whom are devastated by the loss of both their parents and the wondering of whether their mum will come back to them. Both are acting out in ways that Beth has no idea how to deal with, but she’s now responsible and has to figure it out.

As I mentioned before, I felt an immediate connection to Beth and felt like I was on this journey with their family. The emotion was pouring out of every single page.

I loved how we see the relationships grow as time goes on, with Beth and her niece and nephew, Beth and her parents, Beth and her best friend Jory, Beth and the lovely elderly neighbour Albert.

Along with the relationships, the best part of the book to me was the characterisation. Every character felt well rounded and real, not an easy task when you have such a wide range of characters, from toddlers to teenagers to elderly men and everything in between.

Beth as a character has all her flaws front and center. You can really see her growing as the time goes on and I felt both disappointed and proud of her at different moments. She felt like a real human being, not a stereotype like is common for lead female characters. I actually felt like I could be best friends with Beth and I wanted to be her cheerleader, urging her to believe in herself before she realised she did.

I loved the ending of the book, although I feel like there were some strands left open. Whether that’s so we can come to our own endings, or there is a potential sequel in the works, I don’t know, but I would be happy either way (although overjoyed to come back to Beth, Polly and Ted again).

I’d recommend this book to anyone who looks for their fiction to have a bit of depth to it – just make sure you have the tissues ready!

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