One More Chance by Lucy Ayrton

Set in a female prison, this is the moving story of Dani, a junkie who has been in and out of a cell most of her adult life. She does want to change, and has a very good reason to: her daughter, but with a probation officer that winds her up the wrong way, she needs something to ignite her inner motivation and keep her fieriness in check.

Along comes Martha, her new room mate who appears quiet and shy but slowly begins to share another side to herself. I’m not sure what you’d class Martha as but she believes in curses, premonitions and manipulating events and more importantly, she can make them happen.

Dani’s not sure what to think of it all but when Martha helps her see a future event which floods her with fear for her daughter; Bethany, Dani knows she needs to get out of prison ASAP to prevent it.

As we follow Dani’s urgency to get an early release, we’re given flashbacks to her heart breaking childhood. These memories create a deeper bond with the reader and remind us that a junkie doesn’t often choose that life, it’s usually due to a combination of negative influences and moments. It broke my heart to hear how Dani had had a charming childhood until her family and home changed. I was filled with such anguish that her mum didn’t spot the signs that Dani needed extra help in school, instead Dani was always compared to her stepbrother and chastised for her poor grades.

You can tell Ayrton works directly with prisons as her portrayal of life inside and the interactions that go on, showed a deep insight to the reality of a prisoner’s sentence.

A lot of the conversations/events really hit home to me how difficult it must be to stay out of trouble and be safe inside. We all can remember the bullying and peer pressure felt on a school playground, imagine this with adults all locked in a tiny fenced outdoor area and knowing they’ve all committed crimes already – scary biscuits, right?!

The characters really leap off the pages and grab you, Dani being the main character, of course captures your heart the most. In fact, it’s incredible how quickly the “she’s a criminal and takes drugs” vibe vanished, I left behind my stereotype thoughts and focused on really getting to know her and understanding how difficult it is to get off your current path, when you keep getting presented with the same exit at the roundabout.

The gritty and genuine dialogue, the character driven plot and the chance to really understand a female prisoner made this book a winner for me.

Thank you so much to Millie Seaward for giving me the chance to read this story, Dialogue Books are an imprint of Little, Brown UK and their mission is to print books that spark conversations – One More Chance definitely fits the bill and would be perfect for a book club discussion!

One More Chance is out now in paperback and eBook versions.

Until next time, Chloé x

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