Saturday, August 1, 2009

Not Without You: Some People are Just Destined to be Together - Alan & Irene Brogan

Title: Not Without You: Some People are Just Destined to be Together
Author: Alan and Irene Brogan
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton, 2008
Price: $37.95

It’s not often you find true love at age seven and nine. But that’s what happened for Alan and Irene Brogan. But as the saying goes “True love never runs smooth” and this was certainly the case in Not Without You, the couple’s real life story of life and love in children’s homes in 1950’s and 1960’s England.

Both born in Sunderland and losing their mums at an early age, the children were placed into the unfeeling care system of the day which was strictly regimented, which seemed to aim to make children into automated robots with little time for play, fun or any of the normal delights of childhood. Torn from their families the two children find each other at a home in Rennie Road, Sunderland and solace in finally having a friend who understood them.

But their friendship ultimately costs them their happiness. In the tightly reined in world of children’s care, friendship between a boy and a girl is a dangerous and suspicious thing and an ill-timed perfectly innocent tickled fight proves their undoing.

It is 45 years and many hardships and heartaches before Irene and Alan see each other again but the friendship that bonded them remains.

This charming and entertaining story about the hand destiny deals us is told in alternating chapters between the couple. For me, the early years of deprivation and sadness in the children’s homes which make up the bulk of the book, werea richly detailed and absorbing: it is so hard to imagine anyone could think showing any form of kindness to children in care would be a bad thing. It must have been a staggeringly cold and clinical world for children to be dumped into, often times snatched from the streets and their loving families as in Alan’s case.

Not Without You is a satisfyingly pleasant read, but more importantly, a timely reminder in an often cynical and too-busy-to-care world, true love really can conquer all.

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