Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 21st, 2017
Synopsis: Edward is four years old when he is locked away with his mother by her abusive, alcoholic partner, Harris. By the time an elderly neighbor spots his pale face through a crack in the boarded-up window and raises the alarm, he is seven.
Rescue comes, but lasting damage has been done. Sent to live with a kind foster family, and then adopted, Edward struggles to adapt to normal life. Even as a smart and curious teenager it’s still clear to his new family and schoolmates there’s something odd about him.
Then in a science museum, Edward sees an image that shocks him to the core and robs him of his hard won sense of safety. Can anyone’s past truly be left behind? And could it be that, deep down, another Harris is waiting to break out?
I’m going to start by saying that Blood Family isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s an issue laden story that can be tough reading, especially as it focuses on a young boy who has been so badly traumatized. It is a heartbreaking and realistic look at Eddie from the age of seven to fifteen and how he copes with what happened to him. The story is made even more interesting as it’s not only told by Eddie, but by the people who become part of his life, from the authorities who rescue him and his mother Lucy, to his foster parents, and adoptive parents, and the psychologists who treat him. Seeing Eddie through their eyes gives the reader a better sense of his development. It’s Eddie’s chapters though that are particularly gut-wrenching and hard to read at times. I’m going to be honest and admit that I wound up forming a close connection with him in part due to my own childhood experiences. But, I also think that any reader won’t be able to become emotionally invested in him. Eddie struggles to overcome so much and while he loses his way at times the end leaves you with hope that he has overcome what was done to him during his early childhood. The story also raises the question of nature vs nurture in an interesting and thought-provoking way When Blood Family first was published in 2014 in England, it was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal, and after reading this, I can certainly understand why. My one problem is while it falls under the YA category, how young is too young as far as who to recommend this for? While the style of writing is fine for middle-grade students, because of the subject matter, I don’t think I’d recommend this to anyone under the age of fourteen. Otherwise, this is a poignant and realistic exploration at domestic abuse and its aftermath, that I think would lend itself well to individual readers as well as teen book discussion groups.