Will You Love Me?
is the story of Cathy Glass's adopted daughter, Lucy. Lucy herself helped gather the pieces of her life story together to help Cathy write this book so, as you might expect, this is a little different to Cathy's previous novels.
This book is in two parts. Part one is told in third person and follows the story of Lucy's mother, Bonnie, and then, subsequently, Lucy herself in the eleven years before she came to Cathy's home. Whilst it was interesting to learn Lucy's background, I didn't feel that this worked on a narrative level. For one thing, the third person narrative felt a little clumsy, and I often wondered how on earth Cathy knew about specific conversations and things, and how much it was made up to pad out the story. I understand from the end of the book that Cathy is still occasionally in contact with Lucy's mother, so perhaps this explains it, but that is not clear until the very end of the book.
But my biggest problem of that section is this:
Usually, as a reader, we learn alongside Cathy what has happened to a child through the child sharing their own past, and it often marked a turning point in the relationship between Cathy and said child. As we knew most of Lucy's backstory before getting to the point where Cathy took her on, I feel like we missed out on a lot of that. I feel like we lost out on a lot of relationship building, and it seemed a little bit out of the blue when Cathy decided to foster Lucy permanently. In Cathy's other books, I really felt the relationship between Cathy and the children she looks after; in this one, not so much.
I don't know. Perhaps because Lucy was involved in the making of this book and will most likely have read it, I felt that Cathy was rather more guarded than she usually is. There was also a lot of anger in this book, I felt, bubbling away beneath the surface - anger at the way Lucy had been failed by the care system.
I think Lucy's social worker, Stevie, got a bit of a rough treatment in this. Sometimes she felt more like a caricature than a human being, and maybe a lot of that is due to some underlying resentment on Cathy's part (or maybe I'm being unfair, and she really was
that awful). Cathy is usually very good at not letting her personal feelings colour the prose, especially when it comes to the people in her writing. I definitely felt some bitter shards of resentment throughout the book, though.
That said, part two was very much a Cathy Glass book. I enjoy her way of writing and find it wonderful how she manages to look after children and get through to them. Like I said, though, I just felt as though something was... lacking.
I had high expectations for this book, which is perhaps why I feel so underwhelmed by it. I've been curious about Lucy and how Cathy and her became mother and daughter for a long time, but this just seemed to be missing a certain intimacy that I'd been expecting.
That said, if you are a Cathy Glass fan, you would be missing out if you didn't read this book. It is a very personal book and, whilst there is something missing, it is still worth the read.