book reviews

Book Review: The Way Back


The Way Back
: Kylie Ladd
Published: 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
My Rating: 5/5

All she wanted was to escape. But why does she still feel trapped?

Kylie Ladd is a gifted writer. I’ve been a fan of her writing since 2009 when I first read ‘After The Fall’, following on to wait patiently for her next offerings – ‘Last Summer’, ‘Into My Arms’, and ‘Mothers and Daughters’. Kylie’s latest book, ‘The Way Back‘ is her best yet.

The Way Back is the heart-wrenching story of 13 year-old Charlie who is abducted one day while out horse riding. However, the story isn’t solely about her ordeal during the abduction, it focus on her life once she is reunited with her family, as she finds her way back to a new normal.

To give you an idea of how compelling this book is, I started it Sunday morning and finished it in the early hours of Monday morning. I simply could not put it down. Kylie’s writing is effortless in the true sense of the word and instantly you are drawn into Charlie’s world, wholly and completely. World War III could have started in my backyard while I was reading, and I would not have noticed.

The story isn’t only told through Charlie’s eyes. Kylie draws us into Charlie’s world through various points of view. There’s her mother Rachael, father Matt, who both handle the situation in different ways. There is her older brother Dan, whose point of view and own story was particularly heartfelt. You also see the story through the lead detective on the case – Terry, who shows how affecting such an event is on all involved. And then there’s Col; the man who abducted Charlie. You would think that telling the story from Col’s point of view would be off-putting, but Kylie handles it so very delicately, and at times you find yourself torn, almost feeling empathy for this sad man.

I am in awe of this book. Of the story. The depth of her characters. And particularly of the way that Kylie weaves together an intricate narrative in such a compelling exploration of humanity and all its complexities. Kylie draws well on her training in neuropsychology to help her craft her characters and the abstruse nature of relationships. And she does it flawlessly.

One of the things Kylie does in all her novels, is brings you into the story – asking you to consider your own reactions and emotions. How would you cope during and after such a traumatic event? Would you know what to do? How to feel? Would you be sure of the way you would handle things both in a day to day sense and emotionally? The book also touches on the media’s intrusiveness in these situations and how people are tempted with a hunger of wanting to know what happened, without consideration for the families at the centre of such tragedy.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this book. Yes, at times the subject matter is heartbreaking, it is emotional, and if you have children, it will make you hug them a little more tightly after reading, but it is written with such tenderness and intimacy that it will leave you speechless. Simply superb.