Jean Harley Was Here

Jean Harley Was Here: A Novel
By Heather Taylor Johnson

Jean Harley is a devoted mother to her 4-year-old son Orion, and adored wife of Stan. She’s a talented dancer and a reliable and treasured friend. But one day on her way to work, tragedy strikes. This book is a really honest and credible account of how Jean’s family and friends process their grief, come to terms with their loss, and rebuild their lives.

Interspersed with these chapters is the story of Charley Cromwell, an ex-con who was partly responsible for Jean’s accident. Charley has his own guilt to process – and his story is a touching reminder that we should never be too quick to judge others.

If you like a gripping page-turner, this is probably not the book for you. But as Hannah Kent accurately commented, ‘It’s a book to savour’.

I really enjoyed this novel, scoring it 4 out of 5 on Goodreads – it’s a pleasure to read and very easy to relate to the characters. There are girls’ catch-ups at the pub, mothers living the daily grind with newborns and toddlers, ageing parents, shifting dynamics between friends, new relationships, struggling relationships and everything in between.

Just a warning though – as a mother with young children, it will invariably get you thinking about how life would proceed if anything happened to you. I’ll admit to shedding a tear or two!