Skip to main content

A Book Review: Someone Else's Son by Sam Hayes

For every parent out there who is juggling busy schedules with family life, especially managing kids who are going to college, this book opens up their inner worries with deep insights. As parents, we justify our busy schedules to ourselves in various names like 'deadlines' or 'appraisal time' etc. But ultimately, the choices that we as parents make go a long way in the growth and happiness of our kids. There is no point of hiding behind excuses. Parents have to own up and take responsibility for the choices they made for their kids and how that has impacted the kids.

To come to the book, Sam Hayes 'Someone Else's Son' is a gripping thriller which asks every parent one simple, life-changing question: Do we really know our children? We think we do but we really don't. 

The opening chapter itself is gripping. It reads like this:

"Before she knew what was happening, the knife was in and out of his body...It cut through the air, mesmerising them, slowing their lives, condensing everything to the beautiful moments before it started..."

"The vinegar from the chips till stung her lips."

In this gripping story, Carrie Kent is a household name whose daily morning TV show is about people whose real lives have faced some type of serious tragedy and she rocks the boat further by questioning their choices, values and everything else, putting the victims into a real dilemma. She does this with the confidence that most of us have that 'this tragedy will happen to someone else, not me." But tragedy strikes when her own teenage son Max is stabbed in college by a gang of boys and he dies. Carrie Kent falls apart, wondering what she had done wrong, what her son had done wrong to deserve such a cruel end to his young life and it throws up the dynamics of their turbulent relationship as parent and child. 

Topping it all is the fact that Carrie and Brody, her husband, a famous mathematician, are separated and living extremely opposite lives, in which Max remains at the corner of the edges, wondering desperately why his life was so messed up and empty. 

Carrie goes in search of the only eyewitness to her son's death - Dayna, a girl who was as much a social outcast in college as her son was. It is then Carrie gets to know that Dayna was also her son's girlfriend. It strikes her that her son had kept it as a secret from her. It hurts her that while she was prying into other people's lives on reality show, her own son's life had been a mystery to her.

But Dayna is in a state of shock and Carrie wants to get her to talk. It isn't easy for Carrie, knowing that Dayna knows more about her son than she herself did. The two women realize that each knows Max differently and now wants to know Max through the other's eyes. As Carrie digs out the past, she understands one thing: her son had been unhappy and his parents who could have made a difference hadn't understood it at all. Their failure had ultimately led him to his fall.

In a touching conversation, Brody asks his wife, "Have you ever once in your self-absorbed, precious life that consists only of Carrie Kent and more Carrie Kent, have you ever really considered how universally shattered and distant the three of us actually are....were..." 

For every parent out there, this book offers pain, heartache and tension but it also tells you subtly that there is no magic wand that parents can use to help kids. There is, however, an effective tool called 'listening' because when you listen to your kids deeply, it makes them feel more valued and loved.

It's definitely a very emotionally moving book. Do read it. 


Thamizhmaangani said…
wow! thanks for the review! I really wanna read this book:)
shooting star said…
thnaks for the review!!
Insignia said…
Thanks, I will pick this up sometime. Seems a good grab :)

Most Popular Posts

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

Mahadmrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra nee

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Do read my post: Does Mahamrityunajaya mantra really work?Of course, it does but you need to undertstand the meaning and significance of the mantra first.
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. [ Do READ: THE POWER OF LOVE]
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he becam…

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered the possibility that my thoughts and my personal journey would receive such online abuse or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience and not to insult others. My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to shout that as being insulting to your experience because our journeys are entirely different narratives. 

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.The intention of my article is to question - why are we even exchanging insults over an issue called caste? 

Should we not be aspiring to be above caste considerations instead of abusing each other …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! 


Earth Angels have amazing superpowers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions and  becoming invisible at will.
[MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:

You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in …

Sage Tiruvalluvar's golden advice on how friendship affects your life

Ruzbeh N Bharucha's latest book, ICE with Very Unusual Spirits, is a book that I have absolutely enjoyed reading. While reading every chapter, I began to contemplate a lot on the friendships in my life, as the book blends in some of the most valuable teachings of Sage Tiruvalluvar and Sai Baba of Shirdi. The essence of the book revolves around true friendship and how it can make us not just more human but it can make us divine beings too.

As human beings, we thrive on friendship. These days, I've started wondering, ''Is there real friendship out there?'' From experiences that span four decades now (yeah, I am that old!), I am beginning to wonder about the authenticity of most ''friendships.'' [Do read: How to Console a Friend who Lost her Spouse]

A friend whom we knew since childhood days invites us home for dinner but when we visit, we don't get served dinner, but popcorn. Our mistake? We arrived in an auto, instead of a taxi (it is a differe…

Book Review: When the Chief fell in Love by Tuhin A Sinha portrays second chances and forbidden love in Kashmir

Tuhin A Sinha's novel, When the Chief Fell in Love plays upon second chances to bring two of the most unlikely individuals to come into each other lives, with a big 'political' bang! In life and in love, second chances are rare, more so when two individuals who are married to others, fall in love with each other. The consequences are unlikely to be happy but this love story demolishes conventional myths in the typical love story narratives we often read. 

Seen through the eyes of lovers, there can be no greater paradise than Kashmir, which is why India's youngest Defence Minister Vihaan finally comes back to solve problems of a troubled state that is rife with political disturbances.

Given the violent times we live in, imagine the perils of a love story that involves the country's Defence Minister and the daughter of a separatist leader.  It sounds inconceivable. And that is exactly the myth the young Defence Minister Vihaan strives to demolish in his journeys to Kas…

Mumbai Police Movie Review: Prithviraj breaks the typical 'hero' mold, challenges sexual stereotyping

Exploring a completely different dimension in his latest film Mumbai Police, Director Rosshan Anddrews delivers a fast-paced, thriller film after his award winning fims such as Udayananu Tharam, Notebook and others.

To flesh out the script written by Boby Sanjay, Rosshan Anddrews ropes in actors such as Prithviraj, Rahman and Jayasurya to portray three police officers: Antony Moses, Farhan and Aryan respectively.
The story begins with a phone call that Antony Moses (starring Prithviraj) makes to Farhan (starring Rahman) saying that he has solved the murder mystery of Aryan (starring Jayasurya). Just as he says this, there is an accident and Antony Moses loses his memory. From then, Farhan's attempt is to take Antony through people and places that are likely to trigger his memory so that they can solve the murder of their close friend and colleague Aryan. A series of events happen, almost hurtling us towards it.
And I am taking the liberty to hand out trophies for the following:

Feeling depressed and low? This guy at Costa Coffee taught me something invaluable about being at peace!

At Costa Coffee outlet at DLF Mall in  Noida today, I hovered blankly over an iced latte. I wasn't in my best mood. You know how it is, there are days when one feels disappointed and let down by the self and withdraw into an inner shell.  [READ: Does sincerity have any value?]


And so it happens that the server at Costa Coffee who brought to our table what we had ordered is a smiling young man. He has a big, happy smile on his face.
We looked up. He was conveying something with his fingers to my son, who had his headphones switched on and was listening to music. I looked up and understood then that the young man was deaf and unable to speak, which is why he was using sign language to communicate.
This is what I think he communicated to my son, ''Enjoy your sandwich.You have a good smile and a good day.  Thank you for coming today, happy to serve you."
My son was also gesturing back to him with a bright smile and conveying thank you. [READ: Chil…

Actress Trisha's favourite actor in Malayalam cinema is.....? Her answer and the reason will leave you inspired!

If you enjoy watching movies, you are sure to have a favorite star, right? However, isn't it funny that most actors and actresses choose not to reveal their favorite stars? I find this particularly so in Malayalam cinema. Recently, I found an interesting exception to this and as a movie buff, I was delighted by the candid admission. 

When asked who her favourite Malayalam actor is besides her co-star Nivin Pauly who plays the lead role as Jude, actress Trisha's reply was immediate, 'Mohanlal sir. He's brilliant.'  In the interview hosted by Surya' TV channel, the Telugu -Tamil super star Trisha shared lighthearted moments about her role as 'Crystal' in acclaimed director Shyamaprasad's latest film, 'Hey Jude!' She didn't hesitate to say a few words in Malayalam and didn't look red-faced when she got some words mixed up - that's the spirit of a confident, vivacious personality and I really like that about Trisha.  [MUST READ: Nivin …

Compassion for All: 5 Powerful Ways to Teach Your Child to Care and Transform the World

Just the other day, I read a news report about a son who pushed his mother down the stairs simply because he was fed up with taking care of her. She fell sick too often and he was fed up with being the caregiver. I wondered, ''What kind of an environment are we creating for our children? Our actions leave an impact and how can we help create the right impact?How do we teach human values?''


As a parent, the one thing that worries me among many is how to nurture compassion for all in a growing child.  Forget about teaching compassion to a child - how do we start practicing it? For most people, these are lessons learned at home. I grew up seeing my father show compassion to all those who reach out to seek his help. Jokingly I once asked my Dad, ''What if a Pakistani soldier is dying and seeks your help, what would you do?'' He didn't have the slightest hesitation in saying, ''I'd do my very best to save his life.…

Parenting together with love and limits: 7 Time Management Tips to Manage a Super Busy Family Schedule

Last Friday, it was Holi, the festival of colours. Guess what I wanted to do? Sleep!  [MUST READ: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter he loves]
I know what you are thinking, ''What kind of mother wants sleep on Holi?" 
I do. Yup! But what happened is the opposite. That's life, isn't it?
[READ: Why Parenting is Important to Child Development]

During Holi, I was busy cooking, washing the dishes, moping the floor that had messy footprints.  Yup, welcome to the Working Mom's home life on a 'Holi' day:)
Now I have put together a few things which helps me to stay focused:
1. Start the morning with something that perks you up
Anything that lifts your  dormant energy (remember, you woke up from sleep, right?) can work to get your morning rocking. What perks me up is the view from my balcony while I make tea.While the tea leaves boil, the view keeps me grounded and calm as I prepare my mind for a busy day. I see the sky light up slowly, the…