(Denial: Not only a River): A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

(Denial: Not only a River): A Small Madness by Dianne TouchellA Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

Published by Allen & Unwin on 1st February 2015
Pages: 240
Rose didn't tell anyone about it. She wondered if it showed. She looked at herself in the mirror and turned this way and then that way. She stood as close to the mirror as she could, leaning over the bathroom basin, looking into her own eyes until they disappeared behind the fog of her breath. Looking for something. Some evidence that she was different now. Something had shifted inside her, a gear being ratcheted over a clunky cog, gaining torque, starting her up. But it didn't show. How could all of these feelings not show? She was a woman now but it didn't show and she couldn't tell anyone.

Rose is in love. She’s been dating Michael for months and when they decide to take their relationship to the next level (ie: sex), she feels right about it. Things heat up, birth control is forgotten about but that doesn’t matter because they are in love and girls don’t get pregnant their first time, do they?

A Small Madness surprised me. Normally books about teen pregnancy aren’t my thing but Dianne Touchell blew me away with how honestly and authentically she portrayed Rose and Michael’s story. These are relatable characters who struggle when things get out of hand.

On the verge of finishing school and entering adulthood, Rose doesn’t know what to do when she finds out she’s pregnant. This doesn’t happen to girls like her. She doesn’t have a perfect figure, she gets good grades and has only been with one boy. The pregnancy is unplanned and unwanted with Rose and Michael being ill equipped to deal with something so life changing. Rather than face the facts, Rose chooses to live in denial and hope that everything works itself out on its own. And like so much in life, their situation demands to be dealt with and consequences will be felt.

I felt for these characters. They aren’t the most likeable but they are honest and realistic. Rose’s actions may not be the smartest but there is a sense throughout the novel of how easily her situation could happen to anyone. Sometimes putting things out of your mind so you can deal with the present can be beneficial but denial only works for so long. Eventually things need to be dealt with and events can get out of control.

The writing style is beautiful. I loved how open and honest the characters were in some respects and closed off in others. There are parts in this book which weren’t exactly politically correct and I liked the book more for that. I also loved the universality of it. This is a book which could take place anywhere in the world and to anyone.

This is a book not only about living with consequences/denying them. It’s about relationships. Rose and Michael’s romance, Rose’s friendship with Liv and the dynamics of both Rose and Michael’s families.

A Small Madness is a beautifully written poignant story dealing with a serious issue which is scarily not uncommon. Heartbreaking in its candor, this book is a wonderfully honest account of accidents and the way we choose to deal with them.


Thanks to Allen and Unwin for the review copy 


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