This book is amazing! Read it. End of story.

Ok, I guess you want to know a bit more. Olivia is a 17-year-old girl when she falls from a bridge and is brain-damaged beyond all hope. Her mother, Abi, is understandably devastated. Being a single mother, she and Olivia were close, and Abi just wanted to protect her. Where did it all go wrong? Because Abi can see that Olivia’s fall may not have been an accident and, also, Olivia is pregnant. Abi becomes determined to find out what really happened to Olivia.

This is a book that hits the ground running and right from the prologue it’s thrilling and I found it hard to put down. We see the current situation through Abi’s eyes and follow her investigations into what happened that night, and we also see flashbacks of the past through Olivia’s eyes, which brought to life a character who is now silent. I liked both of the main characters very much and could really identify with Abi’s distress over her daughter who is being kept alive until the baby is born and then she will die. The end section was really emotional and I might just have shed a tear or two. How could I not? This is heartbreaking stuff.

I wasn’t sure I would get on with Olivia’s sections at first. I don’t have much in common with a 17-year-old student! But she had a good head on her shoulders and I feel pleased that I was able to ‘meet’ her. I certainly preferred her to some of the teenagers in the book! But I thought they were all well-portrayed, doing all the things that teenagers do.

I find the lines blurred for me between what is a psychological thriller and what isn’t. This has elements of the thriller about it but it’s more the heartbreaking story of a mother’s love and what she will do for her daughter, not just now but for the whole of her life. It’s also full of suspense. We’re not only kept guessing about whether Olivia fell or was pushed, but other secrets come to the fore as the story progresses and this made it a genuinely thrilling read.

For a debut I think this is a fabulous piece of writing. Christina McDonald is an accomplished author, she’s weaved a story that not only kept me interested but had me needing to know some answers. I thought it was brilliant.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes 5/5

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
HQ 9780008307660 pbk Mar 2019