Book Review: The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

About the Book:

When Nell’s father makes a deathbed declaration that hints at a long-held secret, it reignites feelings of isolation that have plagued her for years. Her suspicions about the family’s past only deepen when her mother, Annie, who is losing her memories to dementia, starts making cryptic comments of her own.

Thirty-five years earlier, Annie’s life was upended by a series of traumas—one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made at the time were motivated by love, but she knew even then that nobody could ever understand—let alone forgive—what she did.

As the two women’s stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own.

In this beautifully observed and emotionally powerful story of identity, memory and the nature of family, Hannah Beckerman asks: To what lengths would you go to protect the ones you love?

Published by Lake Union Publishing

Released 5th October 2021

My Thoughts:

Sometimes a novel will surprise me with the force of it’s emotional hold. The Impossible Truths of Love is one such novel and I have to say, it stirred up a lot of mixed emotions and has left its mark upon me in a way that now has me waving it around as a must read.

Grief and trauma bleed into a situation where Annie is made to feel as though she is an unreliable narrator of her own life by those who love her and professionals who should know better. The situation as outlined within this story gives credit to the argument that once a person has been diagnosed with a mental illness, this will forever weigh in against them, discrediting them and dismissing their concerns, even long after they have been pronounced well. The way in which Annie was treated after the birth of her fourth child was shameful, even more so on account of its plausibility. I have to say, her husband’s lack of faith in her and his eagerness to just go along with the nurses and doctors instead of stopping and listening to his wife was worse even than the dismissal and patronisation she faced from the medical staff. I was angry at him for his assistance in the creation of a situation that could have entirely been avoided. I can see why things were never really the same between them thereafter.

‘Grief, she is learning, is love’s echo: it is not possible to have one without the other.’

This whole family was broken. Nell was treated very badly by her eldest sister Clare, who even when I (in hindsight) considered the family dynamics and what was going on at key times throughout Clare’s upbringing, I still found her to be a thoroughly unlikeable and entirely unpleasant woman. Laura, the middle sister, was a lot more grounded and easier to like, which just goes to show that two people can have the same unsettled upbringing but turn out entirely different in terms of the effect it has on them. I liked Nell as a character, enjoyed travelling this journey with her, and I really sympathised with what she uncovered about her own history and the decisions she was consequently faced with as a result. It’s not something anyone would ever dream of having to deal with and consequently, it’s impossible to really know how you would handle such a situation yourself if ever faced with it.

The Impossible Truths of Love is one I highly recommend to those who enjoy reading thought provoking novels that really dig deep into their themes. It’s also a great one for showcasing characters who act in ways that we might deem wrong while still totally understanding why they have done so. This was a terrific novel, with its many shades of grey, and I will certainly be reading more from this author.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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