Because I’d read and reviewed Janet Pywell’s “Someone Else’s Dream” last year, she got in touch with me and kindly offered me a review copy of this, the second in the Westbay Romance series. I’d liked the diversity as well as the seaside community setting (a favourite of mine) in the first book and had finished my review by saying I’d read more in the series, so I accepted and downloaded it when I got back from our recent holiday.

Janet Pywell – “Someone Else’s Child”

(14 November 2022)

Everyone has a story and when everything else is stripped away, it’s kindness that’s the most important thing.

Femi, a dual-heritage, single woman living in the seaside town of Westbay, had a difficult childhood including time in a foster family, and she was determined to offer that kind of support to some children herself. Someone who likes to help, she also works shifts in a medical centre and is an RNLI volunteer, with some exciting rescues featured in the book. As we meet her, she’s looking after 17 year old Ricky, who’s just starting to become a bit more independent, and 13 year old Albert, who’s quiet a lot of the time and yearning for his dad to be the hero he knows he’s really not, both of them British and having suffered early neglect. Into the house comes Ahmed, a Syrian refugee placed with them as an emergency, and Femi must negotiate the new home dynamics and try to settle him in while making sure her other two boys are OK and juggling a whole suite of social workers.

There are a lot of issues in this book, from abuse to living as a refugee, and fractured families, but all treated well and sensitively, with the author obviously having done her research, but refraining from shoving it all into the book. The various social workers around the family are explained carefully and the status of a fostered child made clear, so we can understand Femi’s take on things and decisions, too. She’s a lovely, strong (physically and emotionally) character with bravery in both aspects; the only thing I was a bit unsure of was that she describes herself as needing to lose weight time and again, and although that’s a hook to hang different characters’ reactions on, it could have been done without.

Anyway, Femi is also on her own journey of accepting her past and also has the possibility of a new friendship – or more – once she overcomes her very understandable reservations. A crowd of supporters around them, some from the previous book and some new ones, makes the sense of community palpable and believable, and the book is never scared to address issues like the different experiences two refugees only two years apart will have.

Thank you to Janet Pywell for offering me a review copy in return for an honest review. “Someone Else’s Child” is published today, 22 November 2022!