**I was sent a copy of this book as part of the blog tour**
I had previously read one of Jeevani's books, Christmas at the Palace (review here) which was a very lighthearted romcom. I expected This Stolen Life to be similar. Whilst there were some very sweet romantic plot points weaved throughout this novel, it also touches on so many heartbreaking topics and I didn't anticipate how deeply this novel would affect me.
To begin we are introduced to Jaya, a young girl on the run from Sri Lanka and her abusive household. After her transportation crashes she loses her papers but is able to take on the identity of one of the victims of the crash and heads to the UK to become a nanny under this new identity. Hence the title, This Stolen Life.
Jaya, now Soma is the kind of character you read about and you want them to succeed. Every little step for her, being able to use a cash machine, learning to use a mobile, picking up English with help filled me with so much joy. But her past was always nipping at her heels. From how she put a chair under the door latch, couldn't sleep in the dark and had nightmares. It was heartbreaking.
Her employer, Yamuna, though kind was very detached but for a reason. She struggled to form a bond with her newborn son which was explored throughout the novel in a very sensitive way. I know very little about Post Natal Depression aside from hearing about it but felt that this representation was brilliant.
Consent was a big theme in this novel too which I was so happy to see. I would definitely say trigger warnings for sexual assault. What was different with this novel though it also focused on a male being assaulted by a female which you rarely see in media but obviously is something that happens. Male vulnerability is rarely spoken about and often feels like a taboo subject. I'm thrilled to have found a book that explicitly talks about it and how damaging it is.
This book filled me with so much happiness despite its sad themes. The characters were all well rounded and fully formed with complex emotions. Stereotypes were challenged and I left the book wishing that I could just watch every character continue on with their lives. I won't be forgetting this book any time soon.