In Search of Adam

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Left abandoned by the suicide of her mother and betrayed by her closest family, six-year-old Jude Williams’ childhood is fractured by the horror and experience of sexual abuse. Trapped within the limitations of her language and understanding, and unwitting party to a shocking family secret, Jude becomes the consequence of her mother’s tragedy. As she moves through the 1980s, Jude’s life is buffeted by choice and destiny and she collects experiences that layer her personal tragedy and plunge her into the darkest of worlds.

The discovery of her mother’s diary five years after her death reveals a brother she never knew – Adam. Dead before Jude was even conceived, malicious whispers within the family point accusatory fingers at Jude’s mother, Sarah. Sarah’s diary starkly reveals a woman battling with post-natal depression, sinking herself into an anesthetizing blanket of alcohol and failing as a mother and wife.

Jude’s life is once again thrown into sharp relief. Externalising her internal pain with a series of attacks on her own body, Jude distances herself further and further from the few who may actually be able to help her. Powerful and haunting Jude’s heartbreaking story is truly unforgettable as the very foundations of her life continue to crumble, leading her to a dreadful but inevitable conclusion.

“There is little in the way of relief in this harrowing first novel, but Smailes’ sensitivity towards her subjects – and the poetry of her writing – carry the story.”The Financial Times.

What People Are Saying About

Bluestalking Reader

“There is little in the way of relief in this harrowing first novel, but Smailes’ sensitivity towards her subjects – and the poetry of her writing – carry the story.”

Financial Times.

“A unique, exciting and unforgettable read.” 

Ray Robinson, author of Electricity.

“In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes – an absolutely wonderful and original book by a talented author who is north west-based.”

The Northerner,’s weekly roundup

“Fantastic. She’s a natural. It’s confident, harrowing, uplifting and what’s more it’s set in the North East!”

Paul Magrs, author of Exchange and Strange Boy.

“Staccato prose that crackles with experience.”

Danny Rhodes, author of Asboville.

“Describing what adults do from inside a child’s mind requires a particular set of skills. When the adults concerned are as dangerous or inadequate as those in the life of so vulnerable a child character as seven year-old Jude, they need to be of a very high standard. Caroline Smailes has such skills. In Search Of Adam is a stark and shocking tale told unflinchingly yet with outstanding sensitivity.” 

Dave Hill, author of The Adoption.

“Original, authentic and technically brilliant, Caroline Smailes’ In Search of Adam is a debut of remarkable quality and devastating power.”

Nicholas Royle, author of Antwerp.

“Caroline Smailes has done for child abuse what Mark Haddon did for autism. I’d love to prescribe it as compulsory reading for all those professionals like me who find themselves on expensive multi-agency child protection courses, teachers, social workers, police, health visitors, child and mental health workers etc.”

dovegreyreader review.

“In Search of Adam is flat out incredible. We’re only part way through 2007 and I can state without a doubt that In Search of Adam is the best novel of the year. Hell, it may very well be the best novel I’ve read in /years/. I don’t have enough words to describe how good, how amazing, how mind blowing this novel is. I can’t find the words, they escape me.”

Jamieson Wolf, author of The Ghost Mirror and Hunted.

“Caroline has created a character who was so real to me that I wanted to reach into the book and put my arms around her. I wanted to whisper I am here. I am listening. You are not alone. At times I felt that Jude knew I was there. I don’t think I have ever experienced that with a book before. Have you?”

Lindsey Fallow, Journalist and film maker.

“An engrossing and touching read from a new talent.”

The Big Issue in the North.

“In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes, a stunning insight into the disturbed mind of a girl living in the North-East. It has re-defined what writing can do for the reader – it can change the way you look at people.”

Terry Deary, authour of Horrible Histories, The Sunderland Echo.

“I think it [a novel] should impart emotional energy. Not every good novel will do this, but most will. In Search of Adam is one of them. By the end of the first chapter, I was saddened and uncomfortable. The book has an emotional engine that Smailes guns mercilessly. The story succeeds as a study of disconnection, contamination, and the loss of momentum in a young life.” 

Spike Magazine

“An accomplished, courageous and insightful debut novel.” 

Damian McNicholl, author of A Son Called Gabriel.

“An utterly riveting tale from a word magician who truly knows the beat of the grieving human heart.”

Elizabeth Baines author of Balancing on the Edge of the World.

“Sentence by deceptively simple sentence, Smailes draws the reader into Jude’s disturbing and sinister world. It’s a world we don’t want to believe in but cannot deny exists. It will make you cry, make you shake with rage, make you feel sick to the core. You won’t want to read on but you won’t be able to put it down.”

Shanta Everington – author of Marilyn and Me.


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