Kim Lock (Macmillan Australia) 2016, 320pp, RRP $29.99
Fairlie Winter and Jenna Rudolph are best friends and have been since birth. Their mothers were best friends who lived a few doors away from each other and the young women grew up bonded and inseparable.
But all that changes when Jenna’s mother reveals a terrible family secret. Jenna is angry and in despair and Fairlie convinces her she needs a night out. They drive from their home in South Australia’s Penola to the ‘big smoke’ of Mount Gambier, where they hit the pub. It isn’t long before Jenna caches the eye of a handsome man, Ark. And in a moment, everything changes. Jenna and Ark are married just a few months later, and before long, Jenna is pregnant.
Fairlie and Jenna are still close, but they see each other less and less. Jenna pulls away from Fairlie because the awful truth of her life with Ark is too terrible for her to admit to her best friend.
And so begins a gripping and terrifying story about control and vulnerability; Jenna is a strong, independent woman who, in a moment of susceptibility loses grip on her life and eventually takes her own life.
Kim Lock cleverly unravels the stories of ‘then’ and ‘now’, intertwining Jenna’s steep descent into despair with Fairlie’s desperate attempts to understand her dear friend’s death.
The awfulness of Jenna’s story is believable. She is like a puzzle: complete to begin with, but one at a time a piece is taken away until there is nothing left to hold her together. Lock is expert at describing the intricate chipping away of self that leads to Jenna feeling there is nothing left worth keeping, not even her little boy, Henry.
Like I Can Love is a beautiful depiction of enduring female friendship and a haunting portrayal of manipulation and abuse. Gripping, evocative and unputdownable, it seeps into your bones until you can’t think of anything else.
This title is available through the Macmillan Australia website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.