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Minding by Chris Paling

2007, Portobello Books Ltd

This is the first novel I've read by Chris Paling, who I discovered through his more recently published A Very Nice Rejection Letter , about the ups but especially downs of trying to write for a living. I liked his sensitivity and wanted to read more. I chose Minding because it's about a woman who tries to have a relationship with her son in spite of her serious psychological problems. Paling's humanity shows throughout the story, as the mother and son strive against the odds to express what counts the most to them: their love for each other. I highly recommend Minding, although of course, it depends on what you like. Here's a little taste:

Each time she cries now, Jane feels like she is draining a wound. Before, it was like screaming in the dark for her mother to come and lift her out of her cot and hold her tight. (259)

Sound bleak? On the contrary, Jane has made progress and her wound is healing. There is hope!

...there were no happy endings, not in proper books, because there are no happy endings in the real world. In fact, until you die, there are no endings at all. Just those occasional moments when you can pause, and take stock and if you're lucky, move on. (259)

When we take a pause, it's an opportunity to appreciate life wherever we are. Then we can move on.

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