The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly


Published: 22nd February 2018
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 406


Three women celebrate their birthdays: 30, 40 and 50. But their milestone birthdays mark the start of a year that will change everything. Ginger isn’t spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life – or a total disaster. Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics; forget labour, how is she going to be a mother? Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home, then a knock at the door mid-party turns her perfect life upside down…


Thank you to Orion for kindly sending me a review copy.

The strong narrative opens with introductions to the three women: Callie; the 50 year old who has just discovered the heart breaking truth about her husband, Sam; the 40 year old who finally has her wish of a baby and finally, Ginger; the 30 year old who truly learns who her real friends are. With the opening few chapters, all three women struggle to come to terms with the new changes in their lives; fleeing their home before a media storm invade, learning to deal with a new born baby and deciding to loose weight. All three life changes were on different ends of the scale and as our leading ladies show readers their stories, I was heavily invested of how they would all survive and come out even stronger at the end.

“All marriages went through ups and downs. It couldn’t all be a bed of roses. Even roses have thorns.” 

With their lives changing over night, the three women power through the difficult times with the help of their family and closest friends. Callie and her daughter return to Ballyglen, Ireland, after realising that they’ve been left with no money and no roof over their head. Sam begins to learn that being a Mum isn’t about reading all the parental books and in actual fact, post-natal depression is perfectly normal and very common. Ginger (who was my personal favourite out of the three) pushes herself in her work and personal life as she decides to take on writing an Agony Aunt column as well as loosing weight.

“Nobody had mentioned the fear that came with facing this exquisite little human being who would be in her sole care soon.”

When books have more than one main character, sometimes their individual narratives tend to loop over one another, making it slightly difficult for readers to tell the chapters apart but with Cathy, she allowed each woman to have such a clear and unique voice. At first, Callie was in the shadow of her husband; softly spoken, relying on Xanax and forced to constantly be a pretty face. With Sam, her life throughout the past few years had been a constant struggle and that really showed within her tone of voice; always tired, arguing with her Mother and not knowing when to ask for help. For me, Ginger had the strongest voice and I could happily read another book all about her; she was bubbly, she had an infectious voice and I really related to her story.

“We’re all shaped different and the world makes it hard for anyone who isn’t built for high fashion.”

Cathy has brilliantly included multiple topics which have given her book a lot more depth than anyone would realise; drug addiction, pregnancy struggles, weight loss and many more. I absolutely love how powerful the entire book was, from start to finish, I was fully engrossed in these three magnificent women and it truly was an uplifting plot. As Callie moves back into her childhood home, the tension with her family disappears within seconds and yet, because of her husband, she quickly begins an addiction to Xanax. Even though this was a storyline that I couldn’t relate to, I would have enjoyed reading about if/how she received help for her addiction – AA meetings? Cold turkey? With Sam’s storyline being another which I couldn’t relate to, I found it very interesting to read about post-natal depression but much like Callie, I wanted to learn about how she finally plucked up the courage to ask for help as medication was briefly mentioned but no in-depth information was given. Ginger, oh how brilliant she was. With the determination to shed the pounds and embrace her curves, I found her story to be my favourite of them all; learning who her true friends are, being given amazing opportunities in her career and loosing weight, she was the most relatable of the three.

“Let us let go of all dark and sad moments of the past year and welcome in the new one.”

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Year That Changed Everything. Cathy’s writing was incredibly captivating, her three leading ladies were strong and told their stories with such unique voices which made it very hard to put the book down. If you enjoy reading books which will uplift you and give you a nudge of courage, then this is one for you!