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Black Boxes
Caroline Smailes
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Black Boxes

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  120 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Julie Myerson meets Ian McEwan in this gripping novel of family breakdown.Ana Lewis is trapped by her own expectations. Her intense relationship with fellow student Alex begins to crack beyond repair when she falls pregnant, and his subsequent withdrawal, emotionally and sexually are hard for Ana to bear. Eventually, following the birth of Pip and then Davie, Alex leaves A ...more
ebook, 504 pages
Published October 29th 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published September 1st 2008)
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Nik Perring
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd give it more stars if I could...

The book tells the story, the recording of sorts, of the last hours of 37 year old Ana's life, which is about to end by her own hand. It's told in her own words and those words are told just beautifully. It's poetry, beautifully tragic and honest and brutal - as are the words we find in her teenaged daughter's diary.

The subject matter's not pretty - it's heart-breaking (no bad thing). But it's the story and the way it's told that makes it so brilliant. It's hy
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ana Lewis is a woman on the verge of collapse.

When her lover Alex leaves her, Ana begins to fall into a spiral of depression that consumes her from the inside out. Avoiding the world around her, she instead cocoons herself inside of her room, ignoring the world outside of her bedrooms four walls. Inside her black box.

However, this means she is ignoring her two children Pip and Davey. They are both held within their own black box, their own seclusion. Without their mother to look after them, Pip
Ana recounts the story of her relationship with enigmatic fellow student Alex, and her daughter Pip relates her own tale, one of neglect and dysfunction, stemming from her mother's obsession with the past.

This novel isn't an easy read for a couple of reasons. The first is the subject matter which deals with two generations of fallout from Ana's clinging to her relationship with Alex. The lives of their children, Pip and her brother Davie, are heartbreaking and make the reader feel pity and anger
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again Caroline has taken one of life's most important and rarely discussed issues and with her very unique voice, made it into a very readable novel.

Black boxes is compelling reading.

I expect readers who are not familiar with Caroline's writing will think that the topic is used to allay one's fear of the situation but as usual she does no such thing. Instead, she bravely examines each nuance of this emotive topic, detailing the root cause and perpetuating factors, following the path of dest
Rebecca Emin
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Caroline Smailes does it again, this is another hard-hitting novel dealing with gritty subjects covered in an intelligent way.

The subject of untreated post-natal depression hits hard as the main character, Ana, talks us through her experiences, but the voice that sticks with me the most is that of Pip, her daughter, who takes over the narrative for a section of the book. She is written incredibly well and I did not want her section to end.

Caroline Smailes has a unique style of writing and in eac
I wanted to like this more than I did. I like the idea that Smailes set up. But something fell a bit short in the execution for me. It seemed to stay on one level throughout. Whilst the end was always predicted from the start the emotional intensity didn't alter much. Which felt a bit heavy to carry for the whole way. Perhaps the section with the daughter's diary was meant to inject some hope, as suggested by the cover blurb, but to me it seemed more like the sorry cycle was starting all over ag ...more
Morgan Eldridge
My head hurts. The format was interesting but irritating - the "black box" gave the impression that she was speaking so as to be recorded, but the italicised script read like an inner monologue, which ended up being rather confusing. It was extremely heavy reading - I found it difficult to put down but felt sick to the stomach throughout. I'm just thoroughly saddened by such an unfair and harsh story, which is unfortunately probably spiked with truth from many a mother suffering post-natal depre ...more
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Knew I wasn't going to like it as soon as I saw the first page or two as this author has a very distinctive style,I have read 'In Search of Adam' also but thought, wrongly, that this might be different.(both on Kindle) but once I've started a book I rarely give up. A dark, disturbing tale of long term post-natal depression and the effect on the children of the relationship. It made an impression on me insomuch as I mulled it over and over for a couple of days trying to decide how much blame shou ...more
Kirsty Wenn
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in one day. The story was tragic, largely depressing, heartbreaking and SO sad. The format was a surprise to me, as I basically plucked the book from the library shelf based on the cover and the very brief but intriguing blurb. It is sometimes repetitive, but clearly this is deliberate, the recollections of a dying woman as she is drifting out of this world. All in all, I enjoyed this novel and I'll be looking for the author's other books.
Beth Allen
This is a very good book, but I found it a hard read.

I have struggled with depression, off and on, for about 13 years. There were times I found this book impossible to read, because it reminded me of my own life in many ways.

This is a realistic, at times bitterly harsh, story about a breakdown.

It's very well written, interesting, and painful. Caroline Smailes invites us into the subconscious of a young woman who is falling apart.
This book could have been good, but the way it was written made it very difficult to read. I also found myself NOT caring at all about any of the characters, no matter how heartbreaking their story was supposed to be. I just don't believe the author developed the characters enough to suit me. The author had a good idea for a good novel, but failed to deliver.
Nov 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story and a very interesting writing style. It's a very sensitive topic so it was quite a compelling read in that way.
I just found it to be to long and I started to lose a bit of interest nearing the end.
Muratcan Şimşek
This was a book of two parts; one bad, one very good. The story about the chind was enchanting and heartbreaking but the story of the mother was very overblown. I wouldn't recommend a quarter-good book to anyone.
Cleo Bannister
I bought this one for my kindle and whilst I did finish it it wasn't a pleasant or rewarding read.

The ideas behind the book are good, but they are not developed what you read in the first 10 pages are simply repeated and repeated throughout the book.

I couldn't reccommend this one.
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the story but I didn't so much like the way it was written. But I can overlook that because I enjoyed it so much! I read it in one day because it was so good!
Mar 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Bizarre book! Very repetitive and not very enjoyable at all.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this a strange boook in fact I'm not sure if in fact it might be a poem. It soured hopelessness very well but in the end I found the formatt irritating
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Here we are witnessing the suicide, and back story of Ana. Often makes for uncomfortable reading, but then suicide is never gonna be cosy.
Jenny  (hades2) (Chocolate Chunky Munkie)
Heartbreaking and so sad. The style of writing is different and sometimes I'd have to put the book down and pick it back up after a break.
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm, this was a bit of a strange book. I read the whole book but wouldn't say that it was a book I would choose to read.
Lee Dunn
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Jul 10, 2014
Kathy Wainwright
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Jan 15, 2015
M. Brian Gardner
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Jun 20, 2012
Trish Hills
rated it it was amazing
Apr 21, 2013
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Mar 26, 2012
rated it it was ok
Apr 02, 2011
rated it liked it
Feb 11, 2014
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Sep 01, 2011
Mrs D A Stratton
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Mar 26, 2016
Ellie M
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Oct 27, 2011
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