Faye Bird, My Second Life

Usborne, 2014, ISBN 978-1409578604

Ana is 15 and outwardly normal. But she has a huge secret, and it’s one that weighs on her. It’s the reason she finds herself unable to call her mother Mum, or to respond to her hugs. From birth Ana has known that she had a previous life, and not very long ago. She knows her name was Emma, and she desperately misses the person she still thinks of as Mum. Her second life is burdened by a sense of wrongness. A chance encounter brings back memories of a terrible event. A young child died and Ana realises that as Emma she was responsible. Guilt engulfs her as she pieces together more and more of the circumstances. She is horrified by what she is uncovering, but nothing her present mother says or does, nor even the growing love between Ana and kind, thoughtful Jamie can stop her from delving deeper. She is haunted and appalled. Only when she climbs on the roof of her house does she feel any peace. The prospect of falling is not frightening, but appealing. Time and again Ana is drawn back to the terrifying mother of the dead child. Then she meets her original parents.

My Second Life is an astonishingly accomplished debut novel. The plot is truly compelling, with the tension ratcheted high. Faye Bird is very strong on characterisation. Ana is a great protagonist with very believable emotional responses. Her present and previous family members, her new boyfriend and the dead child’s mother are all convincingly drawn too. Highly recommended.