I was sent a copy of Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller by Mumsnet Book Club for review. This is Jax Miller’s debut novel, and it came with a personal “Dear Reader” note which started “Dear Reader, I don’t write from the heart but rather from the guts…” She wasn’t lying!
Freedom’s Child is the story of Freedom Oliver… sort of. Freedom was once called Nessa Delaney – but she was put into Witness Protection twenty years ago, and became Freedom Oliver. She stockpiles medication in a suicide jar, she works in a grotty biker bar, she drinks too much and is known by the local police. The people from Witness Protection get tired of having to come out to this town in the middle of nowhere to sort out her problems when she gets arrested for random crimes… including setting off fire crackers in the back of a mail van in attempt to stop a letter from being sent, that she had posted by mistake.
Everything goes a bit wrong when her brother in law is released from prison… and his family were the reason she was in Witness Protection. What follows is a story involving a religious cult, brothers in law from hell, snake bites, Native Americans, family reunions and lots more.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story because the way it all unfolds in the story is just perfect. Miller’s writing is visceral and witty (at one point she describes death metal as sounding like “James Earl Jones belching underwater.”). The characters are all well developed, without any over-writing or superfluous detail. Freedom herself is immoral, unlikeable, prickly. She says and does things that make you want to punch her. She swears a lot. She’s rude to people, and at one point she bottles a biker because he basically got in her way.
When the story begins you assume the bad guys will come and find her in Witness Protection, perhaps there will be a fight, a knight in shining armour will save the day, and they’ll ride off into the sunset together. Nope. Not even close.
I absolutely loved this book and found it hard to put down. For the last few chapters I was doing that thing where you’re reading while simultaneously not wanting to read it, because you know something bad is going to happen. And for the last two chapters at least, I was crying.
This is one of those debut novels that makes you excited for what’s coming next. I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something to read and doesn’t want something too easy and fluffy. This book is definitely not fluffy.
Thanks for reading.