Katherine Slee's latest release is The Book of Second Chances.
Emily was in a tragic accident as a child. She lost her parents and was raised by and lives with her Grandmother Catriona, a much loved children's author. Emily provided illustrations for the picture books. Until she loses her Gran as well. Emily has happily lived her life within the walls and garden of the cottage they shared. But a letter delivered after Catriona's death will send Emily on a hunt across the globe to find one last manuscript. To hold on to the house, she needs to undertake the search. Her childhood friend Tyler accompanies her.
Clues are provided by excerpts from her Grandmother's diary. The first stop leads to another clue and another piece.....of her Grandmother's life. And through this search Emily learns more about her Gran's life - and loves. And along the way....more about herself as well.
Slee does a wonderful job of creating the character of Catriona. We never meet her in person, but come to know her through Emily's memories, friends, loves, pictures and diary entries. Emily takes longer to come to know as she has built up so many defenses over the years. Her quick mind and imagination draw the reader to her. I loved the descriptions of the picture books' stories and illustrations.
Slee has used birds to open each chapter. Emily loves birds as well. There's a neat index at the back that details each bird and their meanings. It ties in nicely with what goes on in that chapter.
Slee has a way with words. I was easily caught up in the past and intrigued by the present. I enjoyed her writing very much. Both narratives thoughtfully consider love, loss, grief, forgiveness and hope. (And it feels a wee bit magical as well!) See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Book of Second Chances.
"Each character, each place, took inspiration from her own life, her own highs and lows, because it's not possible to appreciate the good without the bad. The light without the dark. The joy without the sorrow. 'But most of all', Emily whispered. "most of all, we have to try.'"