Single Mother on the Verge is far from a fluffy romance. Protagonist, Maria, is three-dimensional and very real, unsurprising when you realise this is no work of fiction, but an autobiographical account that was inspired by her award-winning blog of the same name.
Maria is certainly the winning agreement, as she takes us through her life as mother of Jack, girlfriend of Rhodri, lover of Toga and Morton, and ex-girlfriend of the terrifying Damian, whose l cruelty left her with emotional scars that make her quiver with fear any time anyone knocks on the door after midnight.
The issues faced here are complex, as Maria deals with Jack’s desire to see his dad, while dealing with Rhodri’s unwillingness to ever take the easy option about anything.Her working life as a freelance writer is an endless struggle to make ends meet, which is also familiar, though she has the added drive to make enough to move the family from a rough estate to a home where Jack can grow from childhood into a happy teenager without risk of being indoctrinated into the estate’s gangs.
Maria depicts her thoughts and actions seemingly without attempting to shed herself in a better light, thus revealing her doubts and lack of perfection with a refreshing candidness that immediately makes us warm to her.
The cast of supporting characters is equally well drawn, though you might find yourself wondering have much is directly taken from life, and if, as the author suggests, the answer is lots, how Rhodri feels about having his failings so sharply pin-pointed in black and white as he focuses on the environment of the world while forgetting his immediate environment, leaving Maria to deal with all the petty insignificant things such as cleaning the house and earning enough to keep them in it.
Morton, the silver fox who gives her a taste of the finer things in life, and Toga, who offers romance and fun in neat weekend-sized packages, both contribute some light-heartedness to the book, despite Maria’s endless guilt about acting on Rhodri’s insistence that their relationship remains ‘open’.
Eight-year-old Jack, Maria’s leading man, plays a subtler role, which seems sensible, providing the motivation for the majority of Maria’s decisions, but only popping up on the actual page now and then. His sweet-nature and keen sense of humour provide a welcome balance to the more serious moments, such as when he is pining for his dad.
Throughout the book, Maria’s strong spirit is evident in bucket-loads. Even when she is contemplating the dark memories of her abusive relationship, her personality shines through as fun-loving, determined and easy to relate to, making her the down-to-earth heroine of her own story.
I’m always happy to find out what you’re reading. To submit or suggest a book review, please send an email to Judy(at)socketcreative.com.