Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Go To Sleep

When a one night stand with an ex leaves Rachel pregnant, she decides to go ahead and have the baby by herself. She is a strong, independent woman, she will be a great mother. But as the sleepless hours tick by, she starts to resent baby Joe. Why won’t he just go to sleep?

Go To Sleep is an incredibly honest look at the stress a baby can put a woman under. Determined to cope by herself, Rachel shuts everyone else out but soon she finds how difficult things are when she has to do every little thing with a small, crying person in tow. Without support, she gets less and less sleep and the stress starts to get to her. She’s not bonding with Joe and she wishes there were something wrong with him that can be fixed. As she starts to unravel, the tension mounts and it’s a real page-turner despite the fact that not a lot really happens.

Joe is not hungry, not interested in my breast. He just wants me. That's what this boils down to. On some basic level he's worked out that my role is to nurture, his is to take. He doesn't need me for anything right now, he's taking because he can. I leave him on the bed, watch him a while. Thrashing. Outraged. Sobbing so hard his larynx starts to vibrate. I catch sight of myself in the bedroom mirror and cave. I'm scared. I'm really scared. Cope, Rachel, just fucking cope.

Rachel works as a social worker in Liverpool and I really liked this side of the story too. We only see a little bit of her working life before the birth but it is something she just can’t let go of. Her kids need her and whilst she is not in a position to be rescuing them, I admire her for it. I guess it’s easier for her to help them than help herself. It also highlights some of the racial tensions of the area. Joe is mixed race and Rachel suspects her father of being racist, of disapproving of her ex and shutting him out.

If I was under any doubt as to not having children, this book would be a great reminder why they are not all sunshine and roses. Women who think a baby will “fix things” should certainly read it! I’m not a huge fan of books focusing on new mothers, as they tend to be a bit sentimental or imply motherhood is the sole purpose in life for the characters, but this couldn’t be further from that. I did find the chapters covering her labour a bit much although I am sure they are more realistic than any other novel. Yes, chapters, and it’s hard for her. I read in disbelief as the hospital turned her away again and again, but I imagine busy, city-centre hospitals have to work that way. Perhaps mothers will appreciate the reality check. It’s not a bit of deep breathing and out they pop!

Go To Sleep is published by Canongate and is now available in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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  1. This is based on her experiences? Sounds like a strong read! will keep an eye out for it


    1. No, it's a novel, don't know if it's based on anything that happened to her personally. I think an author can be "honest" in a work of fiction.

  2. I don't think enough people talk about post-natal depression, it's a a bit of a stigma to say that you are anything other than thrilled with your new life as a mum. I'm not a mum myself, but I imagine it's a challenging time. I think I'd enjoy reading this book.

  3. This sounds a brilliant read, thanks for highlighting it.

  4. I know so many women who had such rosy ideas of pregnancy and motherhood only to feel extremely let down once they had gone through the experience. I bet reading something like this would help the emotional healing process. And it would further my own non-desires to be a mother.

  5. Ellie, I think we are on the same wave here :) Having kids doesn't appeal to me at all, hearing and seeing my friends experiences only cemented this lack of desire, however I think a book like that might help a woman prepare mentally as to what to expect in the first couple of years of motherhood or even to plan ahead how to relieve her burdens. Great review!

  6. The tone reminds me so much of The Coroner by M.R Hall! I highly recommend it if you like f*cked up characters.

    I think women who think babies fix things lack so much maturity they should not be allowed to be mothers. But hey, this is a free world.

  7. Quite a difficult topic, but I think it's good that a book was written about it. It sounds like an honest insight in a single mother's life and all the stress she may have to cope with. Definitely not a book to read casually, but a good literary endeavor.


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