By Ekta R. Garg
July 29, 2020
Genre: Women’s fiction
Release date: July 7, 2020
Rated: Binge it! / 5 stars
A teenager is left without any family after her last living relative dies. She’s shocked, then, when the mother she thought had died of a drug overdose comes back, healthy and very much alive. The teen must decide if she can forgive her mother for disappearing and figure out how to move on. Acclaimed women’s fiction author Amanda Prowse is back with another winning novel about grief and restarting relationships in The Day She Came Back.
At 18 years old, Victoria Cutter has everything in the world she needs. She has her best friend, Daksha, and her grandmother, Prim. Daksha and Victoria go back so far they don’t remember life without one another, and Prim has been Victoria’s mother figure her entire life. When Victoria’s mother died from a heroin overdose, Prim was right there to take care of Victoria. Since her grandfather’s death almost a decade earlier, Victoria and Prim comprise their small family and the two dote on one another.
Now Victoria is getting ready for the next big step in life: leaving home. She and Daksha have a long trip planned. Before Daksha goes off to university and Victoria becomes an “adult” and figures out what she wants to do with her life, the two will travel the world on the funds they’ve saved. They’re going to live life to the fullest as long as the money lasts.
Then Victoria comes home one day and finds that Prim has passed away in her sleep. No warning; no health issues. Just that morning she and Prim were teasing one another, talking about the most mundane parts of their day. Suddenly Victoria is all alone in Rosebank, the home she shared with Prim in the London suburb of Surrey.
Daksha and her parents rush to comfort Victoria, helping her with funeral arrangements and making sure she eats and sleeps. Victoria appreciates the support—and the copious cups of tea—but she feels horribly alone and scared. Before Prim died, she was nervous but excited about being an adult. Now the thought just terrifies her. How is she supposed to manage such a large house all by herself? How is she supposed to manage life all by herself?
On the day of Prim’s funeral, a woman shows up to the house who Victoria doesn’t know. She’s rattled, thinking the woman is just one of those people morbidly fascinated by funerals. Then the woman reveals her identity: she’s Sarah, Victoria’s long-lost mother.
Victoria has a million questions, not the least of why Sarah insists on calling her “Victory” instead of her proper name. She also feels a deep sense of betrayal when she finds out that Prim knew all along that Sarah wasn’t dead. Others come forward to confirm the fact, and Victoria feels more alone than ever. It’s like Prim has died twice.
Sarah has come to make amends, even though she’s grieving Prim, and Victoria discovers that everyone has a story to tell. Victoria just can’t figure out how to put all the pieces together into a cohesive narrative for herself. As she works through her own grief, Victoria will have to decide whether she can forgive both Sarah and Prim for keeping this secret.
Author Amanda Prowse returns with a wonderful novel that smacks of reality and the process of learning how to let go of a dear family member. Prowse compounds Victoria’s grief by complicating it: not only does she want her wonderful grandmother back with an aching desperation, she’s also furious with her. Bringing Sarah back into her life also reiterates that Victoria grows up at an accelerated pace.
Prowse doesn’t shy away from the tough conversations about and around grief, and that’s where the book shines. Victoria misses her grandmother with a ferocity that jumps off the pages. She wants to understand why Sarah left her, yet she also wants to maintain the right to be angry at her—both emotions are real and painful.
Although the book centers on Victoria’s grief, it also doesn’t forget that she’s an older teen. The plot allows Victoria to make some stupid mistakes that might seem like “life experience” in and of themselves. Within the larger narrative of her losing Prim, her mistakes just reinforce Victoria’s heartache. Prowse handles it all beautifully.
Readers wanting a great book about relationships and second chances will definitely want to read this. It’s an excellent addition to any shelf. I recommend readers Binge The Day She Came Back.