JP Delaney’s My Darling Daughter explores what happens after an adopted teenager contacts her birth parent out of the blue and Anna’s mother Susie and husband, Gabe, respond to her cry for help.
Out of the blue, Susie Jukes is contacted on social media by Anna, the girl she gave up for adoption fifteen years ago. But when they meet, Anna’s home life sounds distinctly strange to Susie and her husband Gabe. And when Anna’s adoptive parents seem to overreact to the fact she contacted them at all, Susie becomes convinced that Anna needs her help.
But is Anna’s own behaviour simply what you’d expect from someone recovering from a traumatic childhood? Or are there other secrets at play here – secrets Susie has also been hiding for the last fifteen years?
JP Delaney doesn’t shy away from dealing with emotive topics in his psychological thrillers and this latest book My Darling Daughter is no exception. Not only are two of his central characters having difficulty conceiving a child but one of them, backing singer Susie Jukes, unexpectedly receives a worrying message from Anna, a young girl claiming to be the daughter she gave up for adoption as a baby.
Susie is determined to see what she and musician husband Gabe can do to help. Which is admirable. But one reason why I enjoy JP Delaney’s books so much is that his characters are only human. While they may try and do what they consider to be the right thing, it usually fails in some way and (often spectacularly) backfires on them. Things escalate and they soon find themselves in a situation that is beyond their control. Which is precisely when their past mistakes or secrets threaten to come to light, putting them and their lives or livelihood in even greater jeopardy.
This is where the author comes into his own because the beauty of a JP Delaney book is that while you may think you know where the story is going, he’ll almost certainly take you to some unexpected places. I always learn something new about the subject matter he’s dealing with and often understand where a character is coming from because of the way in which he tells the story.
In My Darling Daughter, we hear from Susie, Gabe, Anna and Sky, who all take turns in telling us what’s going on from their character’s perspective, which gives us a much better understanding of how everyone is feeling and why they are acting that way. JP Delaney deals with the difficult and highly emotive subjects of infertility, pregnancy loss and adoption well, handling them sensitively. And even when others are putting them through the emotional mill, this use of multiple viewpoints helps to show some fairness, understanding and compassion for these characters and their stories.
My Darling Daughter is a pacy and engaging read and tells its story in short, punchy chapters. It’s all too tempting to keep reading chapter after chapter, until you find yourself so close to the end and unable to leave (yourself or) the characters in limbo that you might as well stay up late to finish it. I always tear through JP Delaney’s books (and on the off chance you’re reading this, JP, I’m sorry about that. I know how long it takes to write a book but you leave me little option but to do anything else!)
JP Delaney knows how to hook this reader, making me invest in his characters, and certainly knows how to ramp up the risk factor to keep me gripped throughout My Darling Daughter. If you’re looking for a well-conceived family drama set against the backdrop of the music industry, with credible characters, a pacy plot, and some surprises along the way, then this smart psychological thriller might just be for you.
My Darling Daughter by JP Delaney is published by Quercus Books. It is available as an audiobook, ebook and in hardback with the paperback due out next year. You can find it at Amazon UK (affiliate link), Bookshop.org (affiliate link), Hive and Waterstones. Check out his Author Website or Facebook Page for more on the author and his writing.
My thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.
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