September Bookety Club review of Fake Baby by Amy McDaid
This book follows three characters, over nine days, based in Auckland. We follow Jaanvi, who while grieving the loss of a baby steals a fake baby doll from a store in town. Lucas, a pharmacist in his 40’s dealing with his manic Mum and has given the wrong medication to a favourite customer. And Stephen, suffering from server mental illness, sees his dead father everywhere and is committed to a psychiatric ward while trying to complete his ultimate mission. Mental health is weaved through out each of individual characters stories, within themselves and those around them, and all of the stories are cleverly linked in subtle ways.
McDaid’s job as neo-natal nurse at starship hospital shines in the story of Jaanvi, it gave me literal shivers. Both Jaanvi and Lucas are highlights of this book due to the relatability of an everyday life gone wrong. Stephen is undoubtedly more challenging to read but leaves you to think more about what it is like to be in the mind of someone who is severely mentally unwell, and if books are meant for one thing, it is to walk in someone else’s shoes (or not in Stephens case).
At first I found this book funny, in a dark comedy kiwi humour kind of way. But as the stories of these characters unravel empathy and heartbreak began to set in as we come to understand how these character have ended up where they are today, and the reality that we don’t get to choose the life we ultimately come to live.
Don’t be deterred by the dark nature that runs through this novel, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The familiar descriptions of Auckland meant I could laugh with the accuracy in the satirical way in which McDaid describes the city. The chapters are short and sharp and McDaid’s brilliant use of words means that the sentences flow and the stories of these characters unfold with ease. I was quite frankly gripped.