Better Reading note: This is sensitive subject matter regarding miscarriage and stillbirth.
‘The invisible thread between them tightened, strengthened, bound them together. And now she was walking towards him, about to become his wife, and there was nothing in the world that could sever that thread.’
This exceptional novel is about an extremely sensitive subject. It opens with Ali and Tom, the perfect couple, preparing for the birth of their baby in a few weeks. It has been a long time coming. They’ve suffered a couple of miscarriages, so it has been a long, tough road to this moment. And they’re happy. They both have successful careers and are still madly in love after ten years. They’re in a great place. But Ali hasn’t felt the baby kick all day. What starts as just a feeling of dread becomes pure panic as they arrive at the hospital and are told their unborn baby has died.
The next part of the book is searingly painful, as Ali must endure the birth of her daughter and the aftermath – the practical issues that need to be addressed in this situation. Ali and Tom’s picture-perfect life is shattered. And now their relationship suffers the greatest test.
The book is told from both Ali and Tom’s perspectives, in alternating chapters. Both are faced with an empty baby’s room, the prospect of catching up with friends and returning to work.
Tom’s storyline is particularly heartbreaking. He’s helpless – and given the enormous trauma that Ali has suffered, his needs and wants in terms of their daughter are in many ways disregarded.
Ali’s chapters are devastating. She feels her control over the reality she wanted slipping further and further away. When her irresponsible mother re-enters her life, Ali discovers secrets from a past she’d forgotten ever existed.
Will Ali and Tom ever be able to find their way back to each other? And will Ali find a way to move forward without letting go of her memories?
There are also chapters titled ‘before’ where we are offered relief from their present reality and taken back to when Ali and Tom met, when they fell in love, and we see how totally perfect they are for each other. This only strengthens our desire for them to make it through their current struggles together, and somehow emerge intact: still married, still in love and with hope for the future.
This is Rebecca Freeborn’s second novel, and in it she sets herself up as an author to watch. Polished writing, beautifully drawn characters and a remarkable capacity to combine both heartbreak and hope in this unputdownable book. Misconception is a must-read.
About the author:
Rebecca Freeborn lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills with a husband, three kids, a dog, a cat, a horse, more books than she can fit in her bookcase and an ever-diminishing wine collection.
She has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional and Creative Communications and now works as a communications and content editor for the South Australian Government where she screams into the void against passive voice and unnecessary capitalisation.
Rebecca loves strong, witty female characters, and wrote Hot Pursuit because she wanted to escape the focus on fashion and personal appearance that is so common in contemporary women’s fiction. Her second book, Misconception, explores the silence around stillbirth and miscarriage.
She writes before the sun comes up and spends her moments of spare time reading novels and feminist articles and compulsively checking Facebook.