Cover Image: In the Blink of an Eye

In the Blink of an Eye

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My review is somewhere between a 3 and 3.5 star rating. There were parts of this book I loved but many parts that I didn't. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. And then add to that pain the guilt of knowing you are partly to blame, even if it's an accident. You never realize the horrors that can happen in the blink of an eye. The title really is perfect for this book. How do you begin to forgive yourself or your spouse? How do you process everything when there isn't a person to hold criminally responsible for the loss of the most precious thing in your life? There is emotion, pain, drama, grief, heart break, anger, every adjective you can think of rolled up in this book. But there is also a compelling story for hope and forgiveness. For me, this part of the story came a little too late. Though in real life it's never too late for hope and forgiveness.
Everyone deals with grief in different ways. Bridget's character is a hard one to like or even sympathize with. She isn't a real person so I don't feel bad for judging her. She is a big part of the sections I didn't like in this book. I don't agree with her parenting decisions and I wasn't a fan of her behavior while grieving the loss of her son. I also wasn't the biggest fan of the way the author wrote her sections (in second person) as opposed to others in first person. It didn't flow right.
You have 97% of the book dealing with this tragedy and then in a couple of pages it just ends on what's supposed to be a happy note I guess. It was all wrapped up too neatly and quickly to feel right for me.
Overall it's not a bad book. It's good enough to get 3 stars from me, but there are a couple of issues I had. And I don't feel this book will be memorable for me, I'm sad to say. After reading the description I had such higher hopes for it and the delivery fell a little flat.

My thanks to Jesse Blackadder, St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I'm so sorry but I couldnt finish the book. The topic was just too much for me. I did enjoy the writing style and it seemed like solid character development,.
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In the Blink of an Eye by Jesse Blackadder is a novel about the unspeakable tragedy that can rip a family apart in less than a minute.  It demonstrates that normalcy is both random and transient.  The story will break your heart, but also make you laugh and make you angry.  It is also a story about how one family traveled through the darkness of grief to find hope, forgiveness, and each other.

Blackadder speaks with the voice of authenticity.  Her characters are finely drawn with emotional nuance.  Not every character was sympathetic, but all were very real.  I highly recommend this novel if you are in the mood for an emotionally challenging family drama.  Note that this was previously published under the title Sixty Seconds.  

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read the electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Today is not a typical day for the Brennan Family. Bridget, mom, is still at home getting the boys, Jarrah & Toby ready for the day. Finn, dad, is busy in his studio, finishing an art project. Finn is a stay-at-home dad, his art allowing him to do this. Bridget is usually already off to work by the time the boys are getting ready. So this morning is strange indeed. Bridget's not sure what to do, Jarrah, typical teenager, doesn't have the time, and toddler Toby, just wants someone to read his book to him. When Bridget steps away from Toby for just a few minutes to use the bathroom, the unthinkable happens, and life for the Brennan's will never be the same. Who is to blame? How will they survive?

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

What would you do, if suddenly and unexpectedly, you lost your child? Who is to blame, when it's a senseless tragedy? Would this pull your family together or drive them apart? These are the questions that Bridget and Finn keep asking themselves. Finn blames himself for leaving the pool gate open, Bridget is glad to pass the blame, embarrassed she wasn't watching her son better. When charges are filed, it rocks the family to their core. 

This is a heart-wrenching story. There are parts of it that dragged by for me and I wasn't anxious to get back to the story when I had to put it down for a while, this is why I gave it the three stars. Parents are not supposed to bury their children. This story will really have you thinking. I believe there were some parts that we unnecessary and at times the writing seemed confusing. O
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Made welcome to an advanced review copy (ARC) of Jesse Blackadder's In the Blink of an Eye months before its publication date, I regret to say that my viewing of the title had been slightly delayed due to other business ventures that required my immediate attention. More recently, however, time has permitted me to resume my reading, and I made completing "In the Blink of an Eye" priority number one seeing as that its release date had been rapidly approaching. But unfortunately, I am unable to assess this title for reasons resulting from an incomplete galley.

While my experience with the literary fiction of St. Martin's Press/Macmillan has thus far been nothing short of wonderful, it disappoints me to have to delay this latest work even further. I do hope to someday add my analysis of "In the Blink of an Eye" to the Reviews by Cat Ellington book series as I am sure that the narrative displays a fascinating plot centered around an amazing cast. But until then, I will set my rating scale to neutral – with great respect to the reputation of its publisher.

 • It is my kindly pleasure to thank St. Martin's Press/Macmillan for its consideration, as well as for its appreciation, of the Cat Ellington book review. My critique of this fiction will be published no sooner than I have concluded it at a future date. Congratulations on yet another publication.

Analysis of In the Blink of an Eye by Jesse Blackadder is courtesy of the Reviews by Cat Ellington Complete Anthology book series in association with The Review Period with Cat Ellington:

Date of Partial Review: Monday, April 1, 2019
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The Brennans — Finn and Bridget, and their sons, teenage Jarrah and three-year-old Toby — moved from chilly Hobart, Tasmania, to subtropical Murwillumbah, New South Wales at Bridget's insistence because they needed a fresh start. They are settling into a routine in their sprawling purple clapboard house, complete with a pool that they are all enjoying on the warm days. Finn, an artist, has devised and installed a special gate through which the pool can be accessed.

And then one morning, tragedy strikes. 

In the aftermath, the inevitable questions plague them all, but especially Bridget. What happened during those brief moments? Is someone to blame? 

When Finn becomes the target of a criminal investigation and in the ensuring media glare, he is determined to protect his family, first and foremost. But Bridget is wracked with guilty and grief, and enraged -- at Finn, at herself, at her inability to rewind the clock and relive those precious minutes. 

As Bridget descends further and further into grief, and feels apart from her husband and surviving son, she seeks solace, comfort, and answers in the last place anyone would  expect those things could be found. 

As his parents are consumed by their own emotions, Jarrah, who is equally devastated, is left on his own to deal with his feelings which include sudden, frightening, and very adulthood realizations he is not equipped to handle.

Author Jesse Blackadder introduces readers to the Brennans, a relatable family. Finn and Bridget's love to each other is not in question, nor is their devotion to their family, despite Finn's misstep that served as the catalyst for their move. They truly enjoy their children, and Finn's commercial prospects for his artistry are looking brighter. But that requires a shift in the family dynamics and morning schedules. Blackadder lays out the backdrop against tragedy can unfold, and then deftly portrays the morning when their world comes crashing down around them in stark, gut-wrenching fashion. It is difficult reading, to be sure. 

What is even more painful is what follows. Blackadder charts each characters' journey realistically and authentically. By that time, of course, she has convinced readers to care deeply about her characters so that their pain compels the action forward. The question is whether the family will survive together or irrevocably split apart. For good measure -- and moral ambiguity -- Blackadder adds Finn's legal peril and his reaction to it, inspiring readers to question whether they would make the same choices under the circumstances.

But also at issue is the survival of each individual character. Bridget's mental and emotional health becomes an issue as she delves further into the stages of grief and becomes increasingly disconnected from the reality of her life after that morning. Jarrah has never been a popular kid, with few friends. He has always felt like an outsider and been subjected to some bullying at school. Suddenly, however, he becomes the object of sympathy, which may be worse. Still, he manages to make a new friend with whom he runs as a means to escape from the pressures of home and what is happening with his parents. That friendship, however, causes him to confront his own truth and future.
In the Blink of an Eye is an empathetic and deeply moving portrayal of a family in crisis following unimaginable tragedy. Because of Blackadder's restrained writing style, it is ultimately a story about forgiveness, strength and the ability to endure the deepest imaginable emotional pain, and, ultimately, hope.
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In the Blink of an Eye was a little outside the norm for me. I usually shy away from such obviously emotional books, but something about this one caught my attention. It is beautifully written but is certainly not an easy read as it explores the different facets of grief and how it can affect a family. Regardless of how each approached their grief – anger, blame, shame, anguish - my heart broke for this family but most especially, it went out to young Jarrah. The author does an excellent job of pulling the reader into the lives of these characters and holding them there. At the end of the day, this is not an easy one to get through by any means, but it is so worth the read.
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The Brennan family includes Finn and Bridget, along with their sons, Jarrah and Toby. They recently moved from Hobart, Tasmania to New South Wales- from intense cold weather to hot. They are now living in the most adorable purple clapboard house. 

And a tragedy happens. In the blink of an eye. 

Because it’s an accident, the finger pointing and blaming comes into play. Whose fault is it? What actually happened? 

Finn is immediately under media and police scrutiny. Bridget is overwhelmed with guilt and anger and searches for the truth anywhere she can find it. As a teenager, Jarrah has his own emotions to grapple with. 

In the Blink of an Eye is a thoughtful, emotional, tense family drama. I found the writing and storyline compelling, and I loved the message of forgiveness. 

Jesse Blackadder does an amazing job here of walking us through the mix of emotions each character traveled as they grieved. I was connected to this story and its characters, and I grieved right alongside them.

Overall, I highly recommend In the Blink of an Eye to fans of emotional domestic dramas. 

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
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EXCERPT: The limitless possibility of the moment shifts focus to something that ripples and dances, hurting his eyes with its intensity, beckoning. He steps out with a calm assurance and, as he approaches, the object of his desire fills his vision, calling him. 

The fence rears up in front of him, blocking the way. He wraps his fingers around the bars and shakes. It rattles but doesn't yield. He presses his face into the gap, trying to push through. On the other side, the water splits into dazzling prisms. It wants him. He feels it as a sure certainty in his belly, a tug on his navel with a promise of everything he could ever desire. He remembers the feeling of weightlessness, the delight of floating in the universe. The water promises to give it all to him again, putting him at the center, the floating god of creation with the pulse of moving liquid in his ears. 

From beyond the pool, a hissing sound and an acrid stink. He knows that smell and he wants it too. 

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Brennans — parents, Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby — have made a sea change, from chilly Hobart, Tasmania, to subtropical Murwillumbah, New South Wales. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they're still adjusting to work, school, and life in a sprawling purple clapboard house, when one morning, tragedy strikes.

In the devastating aftermath, the questions fly. What really happened? And who's to blame? Determined to protect his family, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah — his innocence lost — faces a sudden and frightening adulthood where nothing is certain.

MY THOUGHTS: An emotional read. Very emotional. 

Sometimes it seems that when you get a bit of good luck, something equally bad, or even worse, seems to happen. This is certainly the case for the Brennans. Finn is about to be recognized for his art, something he has been working towards for years, something he was coming to believe was beyond his grasp. But then a traumatic event rips the family apart. Blame is apportioned, guilt felt, judgements made. 

But what is the truth? And when the truth is finally revealed, will it give the family closure and allow them to move on? Or will it be the final nail in their coffin?

In the Blink of an Eye is an absorbing read. Blackadder certainly cranks up the tension, and she had me hooked from the very first page. Her understanding and descriptions of the emotions of this family are superb, and she had me experiencing them along with the characters. 

Definitely recommended. 

😍 😍 😍 😍 

THE AUTHOR: Yes, Jesse Blackadder really was born with that surname. An award-winning novelist, freelance writer and budding screenwriter, she is fascinated by landscapes, adventurous women and really cold places.

Jesse's forthcoming novel 'In the Blink of an Eye' is being published in the USA by St Martins Press in March 2019. (It was published in Australia as 'Sixty Seconds' by HarperCollins in 2017). The novel was inspired by her childhood experience of her sister's death in a swimming pool. 

Jesse has recently been jointly awarded the 2018 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship to write a television series and a junior novel series set in Antarctica, in partnership with screenwriter Jane Allen. The pair will live at Mawson Station over the 2018/19 summer.

'Chasing the Light' (2013), is historical fiction based on the true but forgotten story of the first women to reach Antarctica. Jesse won her first Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship in 2011 and travelled to Antarctica to research the novel. 

Jesse's novel 'The Raven's Heart', came about when she'd finally had enough of people asking if she was related to Rowan Atkinson. She travelled to Scotland to find the origins of the Blackadder surname and discovered the ruins of Blackadder House on the banks of the Blackadder River. 

Her first novel, 'After the Party' (Hardie Grant Books 2005), made the Australian Book Review list of all time favourite Australian novels in 2010.

Jesse has been a writer in residence in Antarctica, Alaska, in the Australian outback at Byron Bay, and at Varuna The Writers' House, Australia's leading residential program for writers. She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Western Sydney. Born in Sydney, she now lives near Byron Bay on Australia's east coast.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin's Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of In the Blink of an Eye by Jesse Blackadder. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. 

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my webpage
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What an amazing novel In the Blink of an Eye was. Jesse Blackadder based this book on her own experience with loss and all the stages of grief. This book really had me balling so be prepared to have your tissues ready. 
The name says it all......normal life can be changed In The Blink Of An Eye so live and love fully. That is the most important thing I took away from this book! Are hard as you will cry your heart will feel a lot of love and warmth! 
I look forward to reading more from Jesse Blackadder!
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I am not going to lie, this was a very hard book to read. Losing a child has to be the hardest thing to ever happen to a family. After little Toby is found in their pool, this family has more than it’s share of guilt and blame. Like the title says in the blink of an eye, your whole life can change.

Finn, Bridget, Jarrah, and Toby have moved from New South Wales to Tasmania to begin afresh after a little indiscretion. I don’t honestly think they have found what they were looking for but they are living their lives and starting over. After the accident, the three remaining family members each fall into their own space of grief. Each one is different. Can their lives ever go on again?

This book really shows you the ache and pain of grief. No one’s grief is the same, even as you mourn over the same person. This book clearly shows us that. It is raw and at times hard to read but it is very honest. I loved the glimmer of hope that it did leave me with. Having grieved a few loved ones, I totally got every emotion.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for a copy of this book.
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A beautifully told compelling story packed with emotion, grief, and hope! 

Jesse Blackadder has poured her heart and emotion onto the pages of this book. This is a heart wrenching tale about one family’s tragedy and how they pick up the pieces of their lives after. All it takes is a few seconds, the blink of an eye, for everything to change.

Finn, Bridget and their two sons have just moved from a frigid climate to the warm sunshine, hoping to revitalize their family. Bridget is the family breadwinner, working at her dream job studying koalas. Finn is the main caretaker and an artist working at home. Jarrah is 16 and struggling to find his place at his new school, he is also a wonderful big brother to two-year-old Toby. One day the family’s normal routine is altered, People are distracted, heads are turned, and tragedy strikes. What transpires after the tragedy is finger-pointing, blame, accusations, grief, and ultimately forgiveness. Can a family find their way back to one another after they have been completely shattered?

This book will pull at your heartstrings and leave you emotionally wrecked! Told from the alternating perspectives of Finn, Bridget, and Jarrah. We really got to see three people grieving in their own way, what this really impressed upon me was that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Bridget’s perspective was told in second person, I found this jarring but impactful. As a mother I really felt as though I was grieving right alongside Bridget. Although I have to say I felt tremendously for Jarrah, his despair was so deep and his grief so palpable.

An exquisitely told evocative story that will break your heart and then mend it back together! Absolutely recommend!

*** many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my copy of this book ***
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Rating 3.5 stars!

The description of this book got me - I had never heard of the author, Jesse Blackadder or her book  -In the Blink of an Eye. The story is told from the point of view of both parents and their teenage son, and follows their family during their time of tragedy.  The book is an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end.Finn and Bridget Brennan and their two sons, toddler, Toby and teenager, Jarrah move to New South Wales. They've made this move from a colder climate to one of warmth and sunshine so that Bridget can care for her mother.  They're enjoying their new house as a family and the amazing pool in the backyard. Just when everything appeared to be going well for the Brennan family an unimaginable tragedy occurs that shocks the whole family and will change their lives forever.  There's not much more that I can write without writing a spoiler. Since I don't want to ruin anything, I'll just say this is a heartbreaking and captivating story that will move readers.

I received an advanced readers digital copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to provide a positive review.
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Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review. 

Disclaimer: Loss of Child

Yes, I felt that I needed to put that up there because as I have been asked from time to time,
" why do you always recommend sad books?" I suppose I could respond with " I really don't mean to but authors keep writing them that way." Honestly, I guess as an emotionally sensitive person, if I am not feeling or expressing an emotion by the end of a book- it's most likely not a book for me. I will most likely tell you it was shit! But I digress.... onto the book

Originally published in Australia under the title Sixty Seconds, In the Blink of an Eye is told through the eyes of three characters- Grieving parents Finn & Bridget, and their son, Jarrah. All three are dealing with grief after the unexpected loss of the youngest son and brother, Toby. Jarrah, the teenage son, in my opinion, was the heart and soul of this novel. Man, this kid goes through a bunch at home and at school. Finn and Bridget, as the adults, have so much more baggage from their marriage and their lives, that they cannot look beyond their own grief to see the struggles of their only living child. In her author's note, Jesse Blackadder explains that her novel is actually influenced by her own family's personal tragedy. Writing this book was part of her coming to terms with it after so many years and I think that the theme of forgiveness is very well done in the novel.

So yes, it is a sad book, but it does have a positive outlook in the end and it is a story that should not be overlooked.

Goodreads review 24/03/19
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I found this to be a very sad story about the death of a child and its impact on his family. A little romance, not much mystery and mainly just a heartbreaking tale of loss.
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In The Blink Of An Eye
Jesse Blackadder

What it's all about...

Bridget and Finn and their sons Jarrah and Toby have made a huge move in their lives.  Bridget was distrustful of Finn so they moved to a house by the sea complete with a swimming pool.  This move took them far away from friends and family.  That was What Bridget wanted.  Finn is a stay at home dad and iron works artist...Bridget does something environmental.  When Finn gets a huge commission Bridget decides to watch Toby until they can find childcare.  This leads to a family tragedy that seems to tear this unsteady family apart.  

My thoughts after reading this book...

Every member of this family is suffering.  Jarrah needs to decide if he is gay.  Bridget can’t forgive herself. Finn wants to move back to their home.  Their lives seem to be rapidly falling apart.  

What I really appreciated about this book...

The story of this family was fascinating.  They fell apart so quickly that I wondered if it was possible for them to become a family again.  I think I felt the most for Finn.  He always wanted to protect his family but he couldn’t save them from the worst tragedy.  

What potential readers might want to know...

Readers who enjoy books that have as their focus a family trying to work through a major tragedy should appreciate this book. This book contained good writing and interesting characters.  

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  It was my choice to read and review it.
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Toddlers can be as fast as lightning for such small packages. Taking your eyes off them for even a second can have catastrophic consequences.

In The Blink of an Eye, by Jesse Blackadder, is a powerful and heart-shattering story about a family living with exactly those consequences.

Teenaged Jarrah loves his little brother, Toby, to bits. But sometimes he wishes his career-focused mother would stop taking his babysitting for granted.

Artist and stay-at-home dad, Finn, agreed to the move from his hometown in Tasmania to hot, humid Queensland so his wife, Bridget, could accept a once-in-a-lifetime role in ecological research.

The family, each already struggling with their own problems, will soon bitterly regret moving to the purple weatherboard house near the mouth of a volcano. Even with its beautifully clear, cool, inground pool…

Blackadder absolutely nails the character of 2-year-old Toby. The story is told from three points of view – Jarrah, Finn and Bridget. This is Jarrah’s introduction:

‘Jawwah, weedit.’

‘I’m busy.’

‘Weed it.’

‘Dad can read it. I’ve got homework.’



I slapped my maths book shut, glad of the excuse, though I sighed and pushed myself up like it was a big effort. This was usually how it panned out in the afternoons. Dad distracted with his art, Mum busy and important and not home from work, me trying to do homework, and Toby trying to stop me. Changing towns hadn’t changed that.

Jarrah is the only character who gets to tell his own story in first-person. We’re kept at a distance from Finn, whose story is told in third-person (‘he’ did this, ‘he’ did that).

And Bridget? Wow, Bridget’s story is told in second person. She not only doesn’t get to tell her own story, but her story is told to her. I found this quite confronting to start with, never having read a book in second-person.

Once I got used to it, it was so powerful on two levels. First, it felt somehow accusatory (‘You’ did this and ‘you’ did that). Second, as a mother it put me right in Bridget’s shoes. I felt everything she felt, which made the whole story doubly horrifying. Here’s a sample from one of Bridget’s chapters:

You usually visit your mother in the nursing home after work on Thursday, but you missed yesterday and squeezed it in today instead. Finn is distracted, and Jarrah’s in his own teenage world, so neither of them asked how she was… today was bad. She didn’t recognise you at all.

In the Blink of an Eye is a brilliantly written novel about a tragic event that happens, on average, 30 times each year in Australia in backyard swimming pools. Grief is complicated by finger-pointing and blame, but life somehow goes on – albeit altered forever.

This was a deeply personal story for author Jesse Blackadder. Though a work of fiction, it draws heavily on her experience of losing her 2-year-old sister in a backyard pool drowning. Blackadder was twelve years old at the time.

In a lot of ways, In the Blink of an Eye is teenage Jarrah’s story. Too often it’s assumed that a brother or sister’s grief couldn’t possibly equal a mother or father’s grief. That they will somehow get over their loss more easily because they’re a kid and kids are more resilient. Many times I just wanted to reach into the story to give Jarrah a huge hug and cook him dinner.

I highly recommend this book if you have plenty of tissues on hand.
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Being a mom, this one ripped out my heart. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. It just takes a back turned for a second, a small distraction, and tragedy can strike. What happens after the tragedy is the heart of the novel. How can the Brennan family survive when the unthinkable happens? The guilt, the blame, and the loss are all jumbled together as each member tries to understand and figure out how it happened, why it happened, and how they will live with the consequences. Told from the points of view of the three Brennan family members, in first, second, and third person, this is a novel that will make you think about how you would react. My heart broke for Jarrah, the teen was already floundering, and his parents were so wrapped up in their own grief, he had no one to talk to, and then there was the confusing teen stuff piled on top of it.
This book will put you through an emotional wringer. It is well-written, and will make you wonder: what would you do if something like this happened? It will also make you want to keep an eagle-eye on young ones, because, a second of distraction and the unthinkable can happen.
#StMartinsPress #IntheBlinkofanEye #JesseBlackladder
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A sea change turns into a tsunami of grief in Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder. This is a novel that will strike at the heart of parents, hitting us where it hurts: our responsibility for our child. Jesse explores the emotional fallout of a toddler drowning through the eyes of three characters: mother, father and teenage son. Compounding their loss and relentless guilt are existing feelings about sexuality, appearance, work, family isolation, ageing parents, attraction to others, and more. It's complicated, intense and evocative - and written with words underscored by authenticity. A great book, from start to finish.
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In the Blink of an Eye was an emotional novel about what a family went through after they experienced an unimaginable tragedy.  Finn Brennan and his wife Bridget are excited about a new job opportunity for Finn.  But what is supposed to be the beginning of something exciting for the Brennan family quickly turns into something else.  Something happens one morning and in one moment, their world will change.  Everyone in the family struggles after this.  They struggle with their pain, their loss, and their anger.  They all begin to turn away from each other, drawing towards other people.  The story is told from each character’s viewpoint, in alternating turns.  The story is full of emotions as they struggle with what happened, and their family falls apart during the aftermath of what happened on that one morning.
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