Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

Book Review by Jane Teather

Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and agony uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, the Guardian and Cosmopolitan. Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Timestop ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by the Independent as ‘full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,’ and by The Times as ‘a funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic’. Since then he has written thirteen novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and The Man I Think I Know. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. In 2021, Mike is the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Kerry Hayes is a single mum, living in a tough London estate. She provides for her son by cleaning houses she could never afford. Taken into care as a child, Kerry cannot forget her past.

Noah Martineau is a successful barrister with a beautiful wife, daughter and home in fashionable Primrose Hill. Adopted as a young child, Noah never looks back.

When Kerry contacts Noah, the sibling she lost on the day they were torn apart as children, she sets in motion a chain of events that will change both of their lives forever.

‘Mike Gayle has such a talent for delving into hearts, minds and contemporary issues. Half a World Away is supremely poignant, uplifting and heartwarming in equal measure – as well as being a real page-turner.’ Sophie Kinsella, author of Surprise Me

I really enjoyed this story. It felt to me, like it could have been a sequel to My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal. Kerry was ten when they were separated and was initially fostered and then spent six years in a children’s home, which wasn’t awful but wasn’t great either. She has a really good friend from those days who is also a well rounded character. Noah was adopted by a couple with two other children and they are a loving family. Noah has never wanted to know about his adoption or his birth parents and there are some wonderful lines about his motivations. “…the longer I stood outside [the headmaster’s office] the more convinced I became that this was it, the moment they realised they had made a terrible mistake in adopting me…Even though my parents had never given me any cause to doubt their love, these fears must have been lurking beneath the surface…” As someone who is adopted but never had a strong motivation to discover their birth parents, Noah resonated with me. And when he meets his birth father I felt completely vindicated in never tracking mine down!

Both Noah and Kerry are competent adults. Noah has benefitted from being in a family with money so he could attend private school and get to university, Kerry on the other hand, is a self-employed cleaner. What is wonderful is that Kerry is not depicted as less able than Noah, despite growing up in care. So often cared for characters are a shorthand for an emotional mess and actually in this novel that was reversed. The reader admires Kerry for how she is organising her life. She is, in the popular phrase “on it”.

Jane Teather, is an adopted child and parent to two unadopted children of her own. She is a member of Hatfield Book Club.

You can find Mike Gayle online at here.

Or follow him on Twitter .

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