Number of pages: 472
The plot synopsis of Rosamund Lupton's second novel is as follows:
Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one >mother, Grace, sees the smoke and runs. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.
Afterwards, Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who's still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.
Personally I think this doesn't do the story justice. The prologue talks about Grace being "trapped under the hull of a vast ship wrecked on the ocean floor", and then tells of her swimming in a vast ocean. However, all of this turns out to be in her mind and we then learn that Grace is in a coma, but she is also having an out-of-body experience. At this point, the story flashes back to the fire at the school, in which Grace's daughter was trapped, before resuming the narrative in the present.
The story revolves around Grace's family and friends attempting to find out who started the fire, and the main suspects include a hate mailer and a recently-sacked teacher; also, it is apparent that someone wants to kill Jenny, who is also in a coma.
On the surface, this could have been a mystery thriller no different from any other, but the fact that the events are seen through the eyes of Grace while she and Jenny (both in the form of invisible spirits) watch the proceedings. The whole story is narrated by Grace, and Rosamund Lupton uses the same narrative style used in her first book, Sister, of having the narrative addressed at another character; in this case, she is talking to her husband, while she follows his every move. Throughout the story, Grace's home life is occasionally described through a series of flashbacks.
The whole storyline builds up to a shocking revelation, but what really made this story enjoyable for me was the portrayal of the relationship between Grace and her family, particularly her daughter and the way her love is expressed in her thoughts and actions. The book goes into a lot of depth about Grace's emotions and thoughts throughout. I loved the way that the out of body experience that was central to the book gave the story a supernatural twist, which gave it a sense of being something of an urban fantasy, as well as a suspenseful thriller.
Overall, I thought this was a good book and would definitely recommend it to others.
Next book: Good News of Great Joy by John Piper