Publication Date: October 19, 2013
Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner, Alicia Richard’s 25-year-old daughter Chloe meets a man named Thomas. They fall in love during their first meeting, and Chloe ecstatically anticipates the wedding and marriage they pledged to have. What might be a happy day for a mother, sends Alicia into a panic? Chloe has the Downs Syndrome. From the moment she was born Alicia loved her and not for a moment did the diagnosis ever change how she felt about her daughter, although she knows that Chloe needs extra help. Can Alicia learn to let go?
The author, Colleen Faulkner, sent me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Just Like Other Daughters is a remarkable story. It is simple, direct and beautiful and then deceptively complex. Chloe goes to adult care on a day she doesn’t normally attend and meets Thomas. How can two mentally disabled 20-somethings make a go of a real relationship and do they deserve that chance? As much as Alicia loves Chloe, she sees her as somewhat suspended in time — a forever-child. Alicia, to an extent, has also put her own life on hold using her daughter as something of an excuse not to spend too much time with anyone or get close to anyone. In a bold and brilliant move, Faulkner not only gives us the tale from Alicia’s point of view but Chloe’s as well.
Just Like Other Daughters is a character-driven tale of a relationship between a mother and daughter who have been on their own throughout the daughter’s life. The father is perhaps painted a bit too much as the stereotypical villain. He wanted a “normal” child and resents the time he spends with his daughter. He is a professor chasing very young women and who has been married a number of times — each bride younger than the last. Alicia’s ego has been battered and bruised, so why not hide behind her child to an extent. The lesbian neighbor is likely too much of a sounding board used to bounce plot points in the novel rather than a real rounded-out character. The true focus of the story is Alicia and to a lesser extent Chloe — so the characters around them are pretty wallpaper that enhance and drive, but don’t live independent of the protagonists.
Readers will think of the novel’s description that they’ve read this story before. You have not. Faulkner’s approach is fresh and new. She takes chances from which a less experienced writer might shy away. Whatever happens in the course of the story, the reader is left with the sense that this is a mother who truly loves her daughter and truly wants the best for her. Sentimentality isn’t usually my chosen genre, but I could not put Just Like Other Daughters down. The course seemed obvious but as the tale progressed, I simply had to know what would happen next.
Does this novel accurately represent the relationship between a mother and mentally disabled child? I simply don’t know. What I do know is that most mothers will be able to identify with the core of the story. The desire to hold on and the need to let go. Whether the child is disabled or not, that relationship eventually evolves to the likely trepidation of the party who gave birth to or raised the other. Just Like Other Daughters is fabulous fiction. If you are interested in the human experience, pick this one up today.
Colleen Faulkner lives in Delaware on a farm that has been in her family for more than 300 years. She has written more than eighty novels under a number of pseudonyms, many of which fall into the romance category. [easyazon-link asin=”0758266847″ locale=”us”]Just Like Other Daughters[/easyazon-link] is her first novel in the general fiction category.
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