After Claire got in contact with me, I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I started it, and then got caught up in a massive pile of university work which slowed down the read-and-review process. Gladly, I got on top of everything soon enough and ploughed through the last half of the book very quickly because it was so addictive!
*Please be aware that there may be spoilers in this review*
Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:
About The Book
‘Wake Up’ by Claire Colley
Ruth has had a hard life, but she doesn’t see it that way. She sees herself as charmed and happy. However, she is forced to relive her memories from childhood to the present day and she is confronted with the reality. Can she learn from her past and change her future? Can she wake up?
Wake Up is an adult fiction novel which delves deep into the horrors of abusive relationships, within both families and romance. One of the first things I picked up on the i started reading (and that I have a slight obsession over) is that this book is set in England. Being British myself, I love to read books that are set on ‘common ground’ you could say. It makes the book seem a lot more personal and I feel like I can connect so much more to the characters and their surroundings compared to reading an American novel, which is somewhere I have never had the chance to travel to.
Wake Up follows the story of Ruth, and the certain kind of relationships she has with certain people, namely Max, her boyfriend and later to become fiancé, and her father. Both relationships she has with these men are or were abusive ones, revolving not just around the physicality of the abuse, but also the mental scarring that comes with that and the experience of the affects on the people around her. Ruth grew up with her loving mother and experienced first hand what it was like to be domestically abused, as well as watching her mother suffer too. The reader also understands Ruth’s situation in the present day, when we see her in a romantic/abusive relationship of her own, constantly feeling as though she is in the wrong because that is how he makes her feel. The fast paced plot line follows Ruth through the struggles of living in this awful situation, as well as glimpses into her past, subtle hints to her future, and also hearing what Max has to say too. The chapters are fragments of the different lives Ruth has led, as a child, girlfriend, fiancé and independent woman, which all fuse together to create Ruth’s life story.
Ruth was the character who was the most developed throughout the book, but that’s not to say that the other characters weren’t very closely though of as well. Asking me to pick a favourite character would be very difficult because of the fact that each character is in a different position, either in the right or the wrong in certain situations. All of the characters, however, felt very much real to me, in fact, I felt as though I was reading a novel based on real life events, which I would be extremely saddened by if that was the case. Because the story let so real, and life is so unpredictable, I never knew what was going to happen around the corner. As far as could tell, Ruth never really knew when Max or her father were going to lash out, whether or not they would be in a good mood when returning home from work, or whether that would be the last night he ever decided to batter and bruise her already fragile body.
I loved how Colley was able to expand on her ideas that were currently happening in the book to give subtle hints as to what might happen in Ruth’s future, for example, towards the very end of the book when everything was building up to the climax, these moments became key to my understanding of how her situation would develop, and the writing in italics gave hints toward this. Tense scenes, I felt, were written particularly well, and the structure really helped towards this too, having short chapters with a tense moment hanging at the end, then the following chapter jumping back to a moment of Ruth’s childhood would also keep me reading. I was constantly turning the pages at these moments in the book, especially towards the end when a lot of the drama really plays out. The issues tackled within this story were extremely upsetting and some scenes were quite graphic, which did make me cry and sparked a lot of other emotions too, both out of sadness and sympathy for Ruth but also the pure shock running through my system that situations like this do really happen in people’s lives and that is such a horrific thought!
Reading this novel taught me a lot, mostly about how people feel in abusive relationships and their mentality which causes them to not want to ask for help, because they feel as though it is their fault. Also, how invisible to problem is to the people who surround the victim, until it gets to be too much and too out of hand.
I would definitely recommend this book, but due to the strong violent themes and issues tackled, I would say it’s a 16+ novel.
At the end of this review, I would just like to say that if anyone reading this has ever been affected by the same issues as the characters in this book then, as hard as I now understand it is to find the courage to ask for help or recognise that you need help, there are people out there who can and are willing to help you. Love Is Respect and RAINN are two recommended organisations who can help you through this unimaginably tough time in your life.
My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5
Where To Buy
If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):
Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)