Rose Haldane is independent, self-reliant, in control of her life and with an eye on the future of her career. Most of all, she is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Rose believes she is a Haldane through and through, even though she is vastly different to her sister Lily, and for that matter, their mother. Rose had a fraught relationship with her mother, never quite living up to her standards, but even though she felt an outsider, it never occurred to Rose that there was more to that than sibling rivalry and personality differences.
Until their mother dies that is, and their father – unable to cope with loss and changing circumstances – leaves it to the two daughters to sort her possessions, never realising that amongst them is a set of diaries that will tear the family apart.
In one breath-taking moment of discovery, Rose learns she is adopted.
I was interested in this story even before Sandra Danby had finished writing it. I have seen first-hand the trauma of “late discovery adoptees”, those who are adults before discovering the secret about their identity that has been with-held from them. In “Ignoring Gravity“, Sandra Danby breaths life into her extensive research on the topic, and how it feels to stumble onto this shattering knowledge.
Rose and her sister Lily are obsessed with their two individual, yet parallel, quests. Lily desperately wants a child, Rose desperately wants to find where she came from. Lily is struggling to connect with her husband, Rose feels a sense of having been set adrift – suddenly without a family of her own. Her father won’t discuss it, her grandmother is hurt and bewildered, Lily and others are impatient for her to stop dredging up the past. You can almost hear people saying: ‘What’s the big deal? We are still your family.’
But Rose feels as if she has “fallen off the edge of the world”, and nothing will be put right until she knows who she was, where she came from, and how she became Rose Haldane. For Rose, the question is: Who am I, exactly?
The search for that answer has many twists and turns, hopes and frustrations. It creates chaos for the Haldane clan, and at one point threatens to destroy the sister’s relationship.
Rose is a journalist by trade, accustomed to following leads and unearthing secrets. She utilises those skills to get to her truth, and along the way, Lily finally comes on board to help. Go along with Rose as she becomes an identity detective. Some other reviewers have suggested they joined the dots early in the piece, others not until the final reveal. Which will you be?
Ignoring Gravity is a debut novel from an author who has done her groundwork in the emotions around adoption and identity, and Sandra Danby carves her believable characters with both their fine points and their flaws. There is also a romantic element, which for my personal interest was always going to be secondary to the identity theme. Ignoring Gravity is a great read for all fans of family drama and relationships, as well as those who may be interested in the core theme in a similar fashion as mine.
Note for my Australian followers: This book is set in England and follows the UK experience of searching for those “lost” in the Adoption process.
Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby is available as both Paperback and Kindle from Amazon UK and US, and Kindle only from Amazon Australia.
Read More of Sandra Danby and Ignoring Gravity at her Website: