Half the World Away – Cath Staincliffe

Imagine your daughter taking a year out and going to travel, finding she likes China and decides to stay longer.

Your contact is through the wonders of technology, Skype, email, scant phone calls and watching what she writes on her blog.

Then the contact stops. The emails stop, the phone just rings, the blog posts cease. You know the exact date and time you last heard anything.

How long before you do anything?

Lori is the daughter and Jo her mother, Tom her father, long since divorced in Cath Staincliffe’s new novel which is so wrought with tension and emotion, I read it within two days. Something about the storyline, the characters and the vivid writing drew me right in. I was learning something new at every page as I tried to make sense of what was happening to Jo and Tom as they are half the world away from their daughter.

Travelling to China seems to be the only way to further the progress of making contact with Lori. Jo now has to make a choice, as she will now be half the world away from her two younger children and Nick her husband. She leaves at a crucial point in their marriage and family life.

It is now Jo who is making all the contact through the wonders of technology. How can she possibly spilt herself in two?

In China, Jo and Tom face suspicion and antipathy about their cause. The police seem to be doing nothing, the consulate the channel through which to communicate, just tells them to wait and see. The waiting is becoming unbearable, the system so different from the west, the language, the culture, the heat, the smells, the landscape, the understanding of a new world.

Despite all this Jo and Tom come to a decision and create their own destiny. Their only aim to find their daughter.

To say any more will stop you going and reading this book, of which you must read. It was a fascinating read, and had me wrung out emotionally by the end. What made it all the more fascinating, was the unknown, we shared reading Lori’s blog posts and just as Jo and Tom did, they abruptly stop.

As readers we simply have no idea what has happened. There are no clues. And what made this more interesting, the book did not finish at the end. A concept difficult to explain without having actually read it, but you get to see the whole circle and whilst the actual end leaves you with more questions that answers, it gave me one clear answer. You can actually be half the world away from someone even if you are in the same continent, country, county, town, street or home.

Simply read this book.

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers at Little, Brown Book Group for allowing me a copy of the book to review.