The Other Son by Nick Alexander

The Other Son Book Cover The Other Son
Nick Alexander
Lake Union Publishing
December 17, 2019
Paperback, Audiobook, Kindle
335

From the outside, Alice’s marriage looks successful. It’s true that Ken was never her first choice, but four decades in, she’s learned to tolerate him. Their two sons have chosen their own paths, Tim as a successful banker and Matt a carefree globetrotter she can’t keep up with. But when circumstances collide to make her question the life she’s quietly accepted, Alice realises she’s been lying to herself for years.

It’s time to stand up and put her own happiness first, but where do you begin when you’ve turned your back on everything? Alice craves the support of someone who understands her, but Tim won’t take sides and his trophy wife won’t give her the time of day. It seems the only person she can really rely on in her new start is herself.

Unless … Can her other son come through for her? Matt’s been travelling so long that she barely knows which continent he’s on. But could his experience as the black sheep of the family be just what she needs to finally reveal the secret she’s bottled up for years—and find the happiness she gave up on so long ago?

Revised edition: This edition of The Other Son includes editorial revisions.

Antiheroes Rise Up

 

Before we get into The Other Son by Nick Alexander, I want to warn readers [TRIGGER ALERT] that this book describes scenes of domestic violence that might be hard to read for some people.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to what we came for. Our main character is Alice, a woman in her late 60s and with more than a fair share of regrets in life. Stuck in a marriage with a man she doesn’t love and disconnected from her now-grown children, Alice is finding it hard to continue to avoid her desolation.

I will start this review by admitting that I had to force myself to read through the first half of the book. During this part of the story, we get to know our main characters from the omnipresent perspective of our all-knowing narrator. And let me tell you, the sight ain’t pretty.

We meet Alice, who has lived almost her entire life avoiding conflict at a very high cost, her clueless husband, her emotionally isolated older son, and his insecure wife, who is traumatized by her own backstory. We also hear about a second son, who’s recurrently described as average and underachieving, but nowhere in sight.

The book dedicates a lot of time describing each character’s emotional state and the experiences that influenced it. The main characters are so “in their head” and unaware of the needs of those that surround them (or even how to relate to them) that you quickly lose sympathy for all of them, even Alice. I would be remiss to not mention that these characters’ tragic flaws are not without reason. Still, their deep-seated resentment for life and for each other is painful to read.  They all seem so unhappy yet passive to their circumstances. Everything about this family is just sad.

“The tears are flowing freely now and Alice lowers her head into her hands and lets herself sob. She’s been busy, that’s the thing. She’s been very, very busy for a very long time — busy avoiding conflict. She’s spent her life not mentioning things, not noticing things. She’s had to become an expert at not thinking about things, and not having emotional responses, just to survive.”  Excerpt from The Other Son by Nick Alexander

 

For a while there, I had no idea where this book was going. I kept thinking, is this one of these books where the author describes a period in time and, while beautifully and insightfully written, the story is just a flat line?

Then we meet him, the other son, and it all starts coming together. And, it’s worth it! This story’s unraveling is quick, but also delicate, meaningful and mesmerizing. Nick Alexander definitely delivers.

The Other Son is a story of learning to leave the table where happiness is no longer being served (a bit of an adaptation of Nina Simone’s wise advice) and letting love flourish. This book is not for everyone, but if you would like to read about an antihero who finds her courage and recovers her humanity, this might be the book for you.

2 Comments

  1. Rebecca November 5, 2019
  2. Laura November 7, 2019

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