Second Chances

Norman, Charity

  19 Reviews

"Finn fell." Such simple little words to start a story, such simple words that belie the truth behind the event. Five-year-old Finn's fall from the first floor verandah of his family's Hawke's Bay home is shocking in its unexpectedness and a signal that all is not well in the McNamara household. Recently emigrated from the UK, expectations are being exceeded all round, except that is, for Sacha, and that's just teenagers for you ... isn't it?

This thought-provoking novel delves into every parent's worst nightmare with recognisable characters and setting, events that ring true, and a courageous exploration of the social issues that we face in our homes and communities.

Comments from Groups

One of the best books we have read this year. We loved that it was set in the Hawkes Bay and that we could picture the landscape etc. It was a suspenseful novel, and many could hardly put it down. We loved the writing style, and identified with the mother's difficulty in not being able to tell the truth, and her torment because of it. Recommend highly. Christchurch 238

Everybody enjoyed Second Chances, and felt that the author handled all the various threads of the plot well. She touched on several very contemporary issues - drug abuse, child abuse, immigration and family dynamics - and held our interest throughout.. Katikati 001

Everyone loved our book this month. Most agreed it was the very best book we had read this year. We really felt that Norman's experience as a barrister gave her great insight into how real people deal with difficult circumstances. We thought she created a very believable family dynamic. As New Zealanders, we loved the way she saw NZ through the eyes of immigrants - the scenery, the generosity and friendship of the locals. Otorohanga 003

A well paced and well researched story. There was plenty to discuss with issues around migration, teenage difficulties and NZ drug problems. We recommend this book! Tauranga 015

This was an enjoyable read, with themes particularly familiar to some of the migrants in our group. An author to look out for. Timaru 016

Mixed reviews - some loved it, others thought it readable but not a great read, more of a holiday read. Wellington 120



Enjoyed very much by all. We felt that the book was extremely well written and the characters believable. We could just picture the authors descriptions of the countryside, the house and the characters involved. We loved the NZ setting. Two members of the group have experience of people with methamphetamine addiction and confirmed the accuracy of behaviour. Only one person had previously read a Charity Norman book but others now will be seeking to read more.
AUCK 307
An amazing book, well-written with excellently developed characters. Believable problems with courageous efforts to confront them. One of the rare books that our whole group applauded.
AUCK 412
Everyone loved this book, making it by far the favourite so far this year. Members really liked the writing style, even with it going back and forth in time. All thought it covered the several sensitive topics with compassion and understanding. A great read of a very believable story.
TAUR 059
Everyone bar 1 enjoyed the book. We all found it well written and on the whole the storyline engaged us all. All of the members who have arrived from overseas found they related to the immigration side of the story strongly. Our latest arrival noted the realism of the honeymoon period when first arriving in a new country before reality sets in. The most discussed areas were regarding the mother. Would she have ever told the truth How far do you go to protect a member of your family but in doing so jeopardize others, and how much did fear of being removed from NZ play a role in her behaviour
ASHB 029
A very popular book. Everyone enjoyed this. A great discussion around families, responsibilities and drugs.
We all enjoyed this book. The authors technique of dropping tantalising hints was very clever, It generated great discussion and resonated with immigrants and family dynamics. The only criticism is that it was slow through the middle of the book. We are all keen to read more from this author.
WELL 215
We were all really captivated by this book. Set in NZ is always great and the characters were believable and relatable especially in a book club of mothers with young children! We talked a lot about our own youth as well and how our parents helped us navigate those tricky teenage years. A really worthwhile read - highly recommend.
AUCK 255
This author writes New Zealand beautifully. Gripping story with some frightening revelations for those of us with teenage children. Stimulated great discussion.
PAUA 001
Our group loved this book! Couldn't put it down - it really captured our attention. Enjoyed the local Hawkes Bay setting, and Charity Norman weaves an enthralling story which sparked some very interesting discussion amongst our group. We enjoyed it so much we have gone on to read more of Charity Norman's books. Thoroughly recommended.
This was a real page turner after a somewhat slow start. It was enjoyed by everyone, and generated good discussion about important issues relating to parenting, parental trust, listening skills, and observing children. The story engaged all of us because we are all parents, and often don't hear what our children are trying to tell us! It is similar to a Jodie Picoult story in that it deals with a serious social issue. Well written and keeps flowing. Recommended by us!
NAP 016
All agreed this is a compelling read and "hard to put down!" Given that the setting of the book is Hawke's Bay and the author lives locally, made it all the more interesting. Some of the group have met the author as she has spoken to some service groups. Highly recommended.
GORE 001
An excellent book that was easy to read, with good use of language. The discussion was very lively - especially about Martha's decision not to tell the social worker the truth, BUT we had to agree that the consequences would have been catastrophic for the entire family. The book could have done with fewer pages - it took a long time to get to the point.
ASHB 022
This generated much discussion about 'P' and the relevance of the issue in NZ society today. We wondered if the outcome would have been different if Sacha had been consulted about moving to another country, leaving all her friends behind. We thought that Martha was very selfish, and only thinking about herself and her husband.
A well constructed plot, with good dialogue. Enjoyed by all, and we particularly liked the way the end was constructed as it gave a sense of closure.
CHCH 396
Generally the group liked the book, but felt it was a sanitised version of P addiction. Some of the dialogue seemed rather artificial/forced.
Our group found this book a compelling read. It illustrates how easily one can slip into drug addiction, and the devastation this can cause a family. We had an excellent discussion, and would certainly seek out other titles by Charity Norman.
Our readers unanimously loved this book. They found it a compulsive, easy read and would highly recommend it to others.
CHCH 143
This book stimulated much discussion re adoption, drug use, addiction etc. People enjoyed its NZ setting, and its use of mythology. We all agreed that we enjoyed the complex relationships, and how a mother could 'protect' a daughter, even if it's against the law.
Almost all of our group thought that the book was an excellent read. Two said they found the second half too harrowing, but others have now borrowed other novels by Charity Norman from the library.