The Locked Away Life by Drew Davies


Everyone has secrets… But are they saving you or destroying you?

Esther has shut away herself in her vine-covered manor house on the top of a hill for as long as she can remember. Everyone in the village whispers about the scandal that broke her heart. She has cut herself off from the world – until now. Now, she needs help uncovering the mystery that has plagued her for decades…

On a sunny spring day, eighteen-year-old Bruno is in the local library when he spots an advert. The old lady on the hill is looking for internet lessons, and Bruno sees his chance. Forever the outsider, he can’t wait to escape the sleepy village – the paid position could be his ticket out of there.

Esther and Bruno have nothing in common, except that they are both in hiding, and their secrets are stopping them from truly living… Esther must come to terms with her past, and Bruno needs to figure out his future. Can these two strangers save one another?

Just as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, this page-turner is for anyone who has ever felt left behind or came close to giving up.

My thoughts

Told in alternating points of view by Bruno and Esther, this is a beautifully written story about unlikely friendships, finding one’s sense of identity, and setting right past wrongs. It deals with some sensitive issues with enormous compassion and understanding.
Bruno is confused about his identity and desperate to escape the small village where he lives, due to the stigma of his Romani heritage and the fear of being trapped working in the industrial complex where all the young village men end up working and never leaving. He takes a job teaching elderly recluse, Esther, how to use the internet – “the online” as she calls it. Esther’s backstory, along with her refusal to let her decreasing mobility take away her independance, was also very strong. Esther is a wonderful character who refuses to engage in fake niceness and only respects honesty.
I loved how all the characters had their own distinct personalities and the conversations with each other. None of it felt manipulated or forced.
This is a heartwarming book that will make you fall in love with the characters but also really tug at your heartstrings. I was hooked from the prologue and remained hooked until the very end, which I absolutely loved.

Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy in return for my honest review.

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