Title: Everyone Is Still Alive
Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink
Publication Date: 8th July 2021
It is summer on Magnolia Road when Juliet moves into her late mother’s house with her husband Liam and their young son, Charlie. Preoccupied by guilt, grief and the juggle of working motherhood, she can’t imagine finding time to get to know the neighbouring families, let alone fitting in with them. But for Liam, a writer, the morning coffees and after-school gatherings soon reveal the secret struggles, fears and rivalries playing out behind closed doors – all of which are going straight into his new novel . . .
Juliet tries to bury her unease and leave Liam to forge these new friendships. But when the rupture of a marriage sends ripples through the group, painful home truths are brought to light. And then, one sun-drenched afternoon at a party, a single moment changes everything.
I tend to really enjoy novels about families set in small communities like an affluent residential street and Everyone Is Still Alive proved to be no exception – I loved it. The story follows a group of parents to young children all living on, or very close to, Magnolia Road. Juliet and her husband have just moved into her recently deceased mother’s house along with their five year old son, Charlie. As they assimilate to their new surroundings they begin to get to know and befriend their neighbours.
First off I have to say how beautifully written Everyone Is Still Alive is. I was completely swept up in the narrative and utterly fascinated by the everyday lives of these characters. It would have been really easy for the characters to fall into cliche with the ‘queen-bee supermum’ or the cheating husband but they never do which is testament to Rentzenbrink’s skill. She gives each of them a unique and compelling voice. As in life, there are no one note heroes or villains on Magnolia Road – people are flawed and irritating and contradictory and layered. This gives so much scope for really digging into how these characters think and feel, and it works beautifully. Everyone Is Still Alive is not packed with adrenaline fuelled action, instead it delves into the minutiae of the way human beings live, love, grieve and argue and it is spectacularly well observed. I found it intelligent, sharp, thought provoking, funny and sad all at once. I will definitely be adding Cathy Rentzenbrink to my list of auto-buy authors. Highly recommend!
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.