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Once Removed by K. B. Walker
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Once Removed

by K. B. Walker

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*Full disclosure: the author sent me a copy of this novel in the hope that I would review it. All opinions are my own.*

I was excited to read this novel as I instantly realised it would touch on some very topical, sensitive themes and I was curious to see how the author would handle them.

This is the story of newly-qualified teacher Abriella (Abby), a woman with a bit of an emotional background of her own, and who recognises in twelve-year-old pupil Beth, that *something* is also amiss. Abby isn't sure if Beth is being bullied or if she is self-harming, but as she tries to get close to the girl and be her confidant, the repurcussions may have disastrous consequences for both of them...

I enjoyed the way the author tackled this story from various perspectives as it gave the reader a chance to understand more deeply what was happening in the narrative, which flowed very well. I feel that Beth's voice and emotions were depicted realistically and to be honest, my heart broke at what she was going though and at the secrets she was bottling up inside. Though I liked Abby enough, I have to confess that it took me a long time to warm to her, which I think was supposed to be the point as her background was slowly unravelled. Initially I felt her weak and unable to stand up for herself, with both her family and her abhorent boyfriend, though this frustration did eventually pass, and I found myself caring about what would happen to her too.

The settings felt authentic and the development of the main characters was solid, though I have to say that I didn't particularly warm to any of Abby's friends much- aside from Ryan. I also loathed most of her family, and low-self esteem issues aside, I still can't believe she put up with how they treated her! The 'witch hunt' was also well conveyed too- and put me in mind of a few recent British tabloid stories.

Though the story is indeed written well, there were a few lapses in tense towards the end of the story- between first and third person, which I found a bit jarring. I also think that some of the subject matter was a bit glossed over in points- i.e. a particular situation with loss and grieving could have been handled more comprehensively, it felt just a bit rushed within the storyline and certain feelings therein didn't seem to be elaborated on to a great extent.

Generally, this was a well-written, fast-paced novel that sensitively and accurately handled some strong, emotional themes and the author should be commended for that. I would welcome reading more from her again in future and would recommend trying this book if you enjoy novels of depth that aren't afraid to tackle some controversial subject matters that other writers might shy away from. ( )
  CookieDemon | May 28, 2012 |
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Suspecting self-harm, newly qualified teacher, Abriella, risks everything for a troubled pupil. An incident with a craft knife and unexplained injuries are not enough to secure help for Beth. Unsure whether the girl is being bullied or has problems at home, Abby sets out to win her trust, and the two begin a friendship. But has the teacher gone too far?
When Beth disappears, Abriella’s already complicated life takes on a sinister turn as rumour and suspicion ignite an inferno. Abriella is arrested, suspended and targeted by vigilantes.
Will either rise from the ashes?
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