by Cathy Hayward
Shocked. Angry. Disturbed. Disgusted. Heartbroken. These are just a few of the emotions that I experienced while reading this book. The Girl in the Maze tells the story of three generations of women who found themselves hurting each other more than helping each other. Maybe if they just listened, their lives would have turned out differently.
Some of the topics covered in The Girl in the Maze are betrayal, denial, family secrets, pedophilia, and rape. There were times when I put the book down because the chapter was too disturbing and upsetting to continue. Because of that, I will not go into the actual story. Instead, I will only write what I think of the author’s writing.
Cathy Hayward uses vivid imagery that takes the reader into Betty, Margaret and Emma’s worlds. Each generation faced its share of troubles and misunderstandings. The feelings of betrayal are so deep in The Girl in the Maze that it is almost impossible for the reader not to become just as angry as Margaret, or just as heartbroken and shocked as Emma.
When Emma’s mother Margaret dies, Emma discovers secrets that her mother wanted kept secret. When Margaret’s solicitor tells Emma to leave the past in the past, she does not listen. She only realizes why he gave her that advice after it is too late to turn back.
However, through digging into Margaret’s past, Emma gains a better understanding of her mother. Margaret, who Emma thought was just mad all the time, turns out to be so much more than Emma expected. Nonetheless, it was too late to make amends with her mother. Her mother was gone. She died alone with only her solicitor by her side. This is something Emma will always have to live with, along with the secrets Margaret did not want exposed. Emma now bears the burden of keeping her mother’s secrets and doing everything in her power to be there for her daughter and let her daughter know that she is loved always.
The Girl in the Maze is very well written. Cathy Hayward laments that her mother always encouraged her to write a book. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until her mother died that she actually did just that. According to the author, The Girl in the Maze was a kind of therapy that helped her deal with the difficult relationship she had with her own mother. I sincerely hope that The Girl in the Maze is just a fictional story with made-up circumstances and not an autobiographical reflection of what Cathy Hayward discovered after her mother died.
One thing I did take away from The Girl in the Maze is that children should not wait until their parents are dead to really get to know them. Listen to their stories. Learn their histories. Parents have so much to teach us. I am extremely blessed to have been raised in a home with unconditional love. Yes, we had our problems, but I never once doubted whether I was loved. Now that I am and adult, my mother and I are more like best friends. I ask about her childhood and want to know everything she can tell me. I did not do that with my father before he died. The stories of his family I must hear from others. As my children get older, I pray they will want to learn from the stories the adults in their lives can tell them. The Girl in the Maze reminded me of just how incredibly blessed I am. All families have stories. All families have secrets. Don’t wait until it is too late to discover those.
If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, please listen and call the abuse hotline in your country.
UK – For information on how you can help or get help, go to
USA – For information on how you can help or get help,
please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233),
text START to 88788, or
visit www.thehotline.org to chat with someone online.