I was given the privilege of reading Rachel Marks’ debut novel ‘Saturdays At Noon,’ ahead of it’s exciting release early next spring and it certainly was a book that I couldn’t put down.
The premise of the story is about two characters who unwillingly meet on an anger management course and as the blurb states when they first encounter one another the sparks fly – but not the good kind!
Emily, the beloved antiheroine of the title, is kind, funny and charismatic but not in any conventional way. She has become accustomed to shutting the world out and the last thing she wants to be doing is talking about her life with a bunch of strangers every Saturday.
Jake, on first perceptions, seems pretentious, arrogant and unfriendly – he is forced to go to the group each week to curb his anger problems (which he denies having). Ultimately, it is a last ditch attempt to save his marriage and to repair the fragmented relationship with his son – six year old Alfie.
Emily can’t understand why Jake is there, it would appear that he has a perfect setup so why can’t he be happy with his good fortune? Jake can’t understand why Alfie lights up around spiky Emily, after all, just like Jake, Alfie is not keen on strangers!
And so the plot unfolds with the central voices of Alfie, Jake and Emily as they propel the story forwards with such fascinating, character-driven momentum. The characters simply leap from the page; they are well crafted and I found myself deeply invested, with tenacity and care, in their interwoven lives.
Alfie could easily be the star of the show; he is as endearingly naive and sweet as he is poignantly and deeply troubled. In his own right he is a very misunderstood little boy.
This is the part I know very well, you see, I have a little girl like Alfie too. Alfie’s behaviour is not always typical and the parenting route his parents undertake make their life harder, not better. The research and experience that has gone into creating this novel is very authentic and there were so many moments where I could have lived the same scenarios.
There seem to be no answers for them; steadily traveling along their relentless treadmills, with the social expectations that they should be firmer, have more sanctions and simply be better parents.
Will the anger management course be the key to unlocking any of the problems this broken family are facing? And can the group help Emily face her inner demons?
I don’t want to give too much away, because I want others to experience the joy from reading this page-turner of a book. It’s actually hard to believe this is Rachel’s debut novel.
It was one of the most well crafted, funny and infectious books I’ve read in years. You could say it was escapism at its best. I really think this will be an author to watch and having read this first book, I would grab the chance to read anything that follows.
PDA is only one facet to the story (which is far more reflective to real life) and the novel focuses on many other themes that will appeal to a wider audience. This book may touch many people and I have every faith that it will transform lives – you see, by having such a good public reach it will mean PDA will be in our subconscious.
My guess is that this book will be passed on through conversation to someone who just can’t fathom why their child seems to be so oppositional – it will be popular with a whole range of parents as it also sums up the real challenges of parenting in a modern society.
This book may give others their ‘lightbulb moment’ (that they may so desperately need) and propel them to a place of enlightenment just like Channel 4’s Born Naughty programme did many years before.
I also can’t wait to share this novel with family and friends; I hope that anyone who cares about my own situation would like to read this warm, uplifting novel. In doing so, they may just understand my life a little better too.
Most of all Rachel’s words will seep into our social understanding that all behaviour is communication and improve the lives of those living with Pathological Demand Avoidance.
Lastly, I want to thank Rachel Marks and the publishers at Penguin for bringing Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) into the mainstream arena. The subject has been handled sensitively and with a perfect balance to show what life can really be like to live with this rare profile on the autism spectrum.
You can pre-order this book from Hive, Waterstones or Amazon – a link can be found here for further details.
*What is PDA? Click here for a quick summary of the profile.
*I have written about our early PDA journey before and will hope to update this link soon. Here is the original part to Our PDA Journey.
**DISCLAIMER** No payment was taken for this review and all views are my own.