Wednesday 19 February 2020

BLOG TOUR: Saturdays at Noon - Rachel Marks

Emily just wants to keep the world away.

After getting into trouble yet again, she's agreed to attend anger management classes. But she refuses to share her deepest secrets with a room full of strangers.

Jake just wants to keep his family together.

He'll do anything to save his marriage and bond with his six-year-old son, Alfie. But when he's paired with spiky Emily, he wonders whether opening up will do more harm than good.

The two of them couldn't be more different. Yet when Alfie, who never likes strangers, meets Emily, something extraordinary happens.

Could one small boy change everything?

What did I think?

What a truly exceptional book!  Rachel Marks' writing is so accomplished that I must have checked half a dozen times that it was her debut.  This heartwarming, touching and utterly charming tale kept my eyes firmly glued to the page from start to finish and left me thinking about the story long after I finished it.

The story starts when Jake and Emily meet at anger management class, but it is 6 year old Alfie who steals the show and the reader's heart.  Emily doesn't think she has an anger issue so she's very dismissive of the anger management class.  Meanwhile, Jake is a stay at home dad, struggling with his frustration and anger at Alfie's volatile mood swings and agreeing to go to anger management class to try to save his marriage.  When Emily meets Alfie they have an instant connection and Jake agrees to spend time with Emily to avoid Alfie's stupendous meltdowns.  Naturally, their shared love of Alfie brings them closer together but with his marriage on the rocks, Jake has some momentous decisions to make.

In one fell swoop with her beautiful, outstanding debut, Rachel Marks obliterates the stigma surrounding autism; there's absolutely nothing 'wrong' with an autistic child, the condition just needs to be identified and managed correctly.  Alfie's autism is not diagnosed early and he is seen as a naughty, uncontrollable child, leaving his parents at their wits end and feeling like failures.  It is Emily who tries different tactics with Alfie and his need to control his environment and seeing him blossom into a happy, loving child makes all of the meltdowns instantly forgettable.

Although most of the chapters are told from alternating points of view of Jake and Emily, I love how Alfie gets to tell the reader how he is feeling.  It really helped me to understand autism from the child's point of view and I see it in a completely different light now.  From the adult point of view, it is clear that everyone has different coping mechanisms, not only with autism but with life itself.  Although Emily and Jake turn to traditional coping methods, I didn't like Jake's wife Jemma's way of coping with a difficult child, although I can understand it as everyone is different.

I didn't just love this book, I completely adored it; the characters seemed to come alive through Rachel Marks' expressive and emotive writing and I am actually missing Alfie already.  So deeply has he ingrained himself into my heart that I don't think I will ever be able to see Lego without thinking of him.

A stunningly beautiful, uplifting and captivating book, Saturdays at Noon is indubitably worthy of every single one of the five sparkly stars I have awarded it.  Simply breathtaking and highly recommended, Saturdays at Noon most definitely deserves to soar to the top of the bestseller chart.  If you only read one book this year, make it this one!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Rachel Marks studied English at Exeter University before becoming a primary school teacher. Despite always loving to write, it wasn't until she gained a place on the 2016 Curtis Brown Creative online novel writing course that she started to believe it could be anything more than a much-loved hobby. Her inspiration for her first book came from the challenges she faced with her eldest son, testing and fascinating in equal measure, and the research she did to try to understand him better.

You can also follow Rachel on Twitter @Rache1Marks and Instagram @rachelmarksauthor.

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  1. This is such a fine review. Thank you for recognising all of the hard and emotional work that went into crafting my daughter's book.

    1. It really is an exceptional book. My mam gave it 5 stars and she doesn't give many books top marks!