The Woman In The Middle
By Milly Johnson
Moving with a personal feel to it is what Milly Johnson brings to her latest book – Woman In The Middle. It’s got a bit of a different feel from other books I’ve read and that’s still okay in this pleasant read that delves so much into family life. Thanks to Books And The City at Simon & Schuster for gifting.
The emotional, uplifting and completely relatable new novel from Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson.
Shay Bastable is the woman in the middle. She is part of the sandwich generation – caring for her parents and her children, supporting her husband Bruce, holding them all together and caring for them as best she can.
Then the arrival of a large orange skip on her mother’s estate sets in motion a cataclysmic series of events which leads to the collapse of Shay’s world. She is forced to put herself first for a change.
But in order to move forward with her present, Shay needs to make sense of her past. And so she returns to the little village she grew up in, to uncover the truth about what happened to her when she was younger. And in doing so, she discovers that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find the only way is up.
Shay Bastable has a lot to juggle in her family. Caring for parents, keeping her own family going will be relatable to many people. I certainly relate to the caring for parents, in my case to keep the rest of the more adult family than in the book, going in some ways. For Shay it’s a struggle to keep all the balls freely in the air and they do indeed come crashing down all around her. Shay also has children and all their demands, especially determined, strong-willed daughter – Courtney to take care of,then there is her son who is supposed to be getting married, but she is concerned that something isn’t right within the relationship. You feel that this would no doubt have quite an impact. The book explores this as well as how her sister does little to help and her husband, Bruce is not at all useful and practically ignores what is going on around him, which makes matters even worse as there’s not the backup needed in such a situation. There’s definitely a lot to feel sorry for Shay and how her life is panning out. So, she tries to then put herself first, which seems somewhere between sensible and losing selflessness for awhile, but you can see where she is coming too and shows the challenges of life faced in this situation, trying to also take care of yourself as well as others.
You really get the sense that Shay is The Woman In The Middle instead of at the top of her family, yet is also the glue of her family holding it all together, even though the stickyness of that glue is waining along with her resillience as the weight of pressure, conveyed so well by Milly Johnson gets to her more and more, making its impact. You get the feeling that so much has shaped her life and is still shaping it, but not necessarily as she would have planned.