After watching her mother deteriorate and die from Huntington’s disease, Rosie must face up to the fact that she has a 50% chance of inheriting it. She knows that she can’t bear not knowing but then her neighbour drops a bombshell. Rosie isn’t Trudie’s daughter. Armed with this new knowledge, Rosie knows she can’t have Huntington’s but should she try and find her real mother? Rosie’s search for the truth brings with it some tough choices. Does she continue living a lie or risk ruining the lives of others?
It’s apt that one of the characters ends up a soap star in Someone Else’s Life because that’s exactly what the plotting and pacing felt like. There is so much going on and it moves from one revelation to the next. There are secrets and lies, but all of a sudden they’re out in the open and then there’s something else. And drama at every turn. Which is fine, if you like soaps, but I didn’t think it allowed for any real tension to build up and none of the topics were dealt with in much depth. Yet it was still rather compulsive reading and I made it to the end.
The narrative is shared between Rosie and an anonymous teenage girl who is facing an unplanned pregnancy. Rosie’s story leads you to make assumptions about the second narrative that may not be true. One thing that was realistic, even if it meant for less of an enjoyable reading experience, is the self-centredness and selfishness of the teenage girls. The world revolves around them and they can’t seem to put themselves into the shoes of others. I’m not quite sure this gels with Rosie’s role as a caregiver. Often teenagers in that position grow up very fast.
And as for Rosie. She doesn’t take long to get over her mother’s death. I don’t care if she did have a shock at finding out she wasn’t her biological parent, she would still grieve. But no, she goes off on her own adventure, her only thought for her mother that she’s relieved she won’t face the same fate.
There was a whole other story to be told; one where Rosie gives up her education in order to care for her dying mother. I thought there would be more flashbacks but after the background is set, it’s only mentioned in passing. Whilst the book gave a basic impression of Huntington’s disease, it did seem to make it look like a common condition. Both main characters go to a clinic that appears to specialise in it and with waiting rooms full of patients displaying symptoms. I’m pretty sure most people would go to their regular doctor and are unlikely to come into contact with other sufferers without seeking them out through help groups.