What a stunning novel this is, dealing with what happens when we are faced with the fragility of human life. Adam’s previously healthy teenager daughter collapses one day at school. Her heart stops. How do you go one with life knowing that life can stop so suddenly? How do you protect your children when they could just die like that?

Where the body’s metronome ticked, there is silence. She goes. She goes away. It can happen. It had happened. I needed to tell people that the world was not as they believed it to be.

I’ve seen The Tidal Zone called a state of the nation novel, and bearing in mind it was written in pre-Brexit I think this is a fair assessment. The NHS is portrayed honestly but not meanly. The limbo of waiting in hospital, of kind nurses and dismissive consultants. The hardship of waiting to know what caused your teenage daughter to die, if briefly, and no one seeming to know.

Adam’s a stay-at-home dad and it touches on how that can be perceived. For instance when he takes his younger daughter to a party at a swimming pool, he must navigate the changing rooms and then be accused of staring in an inappropriate manner at the girls when he’s just watching his daughter. Yet he is always a parent, he’s never trying to get extra credit for being a man and a parent. It highlights how we still have far to come in gender equality.

For days we drifted in hospital time, which is in some ways not unlike toddler time, the weeks and months passed at home while essentially waiting for the child to grow up enough to do something else.

It proves Sarah’s talent at writing convincing characters that I kept thinking I was reading a memoir. The tangents probably help with this, Adam’s work and his father’s history. After reading so much YA, I loved reading about a teenager from the parent’s point of view for once. I can just imagine what it would be like from idealistic and frustrated Miriam’s perspective.

I don’t think I’d ever have picked up a book about the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral but I was actually fascinated by the chapters which reflect what Adam is writing for his work. It’s the story of rebuilding after disaster which reflects what he is feeling in his family life. it is also like having a non-fiction book inside a novel and as someone who quite often splits my reading up this way, I loved it. Coventry was badly bombed during the war and it starts with this, and follows the planning and competition for the new design.

Books that mattered were too demanding and books that didn’t were too trivial for the new reality in which death stood in the corner of every room and came to breathe over my shoulder whenever I took my eye off him.

I loved the ending, it’s more of a non-ending, the fact that lives go on and you don’t get neat conclusions. Why did it take me so long to discover Sarah Moss? I can’t wait to read more and I have a non-fiction book of hers about Iceland on my TBR already.

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Book Source: Purchased