She's Not There
By Tamsin Grey
‘A wonderful, artfully addictive novel’ IAN MCEWANWhen Jonah and Raff wake up on Monday, their mother Lucy isn’t there. Tweet
Jonah, aged nine and his younger brother Raff live with their mother, Lucy but wake up one morning to find that she has disappeared. Their stepfather is in prison so they are completely alone. Scared to tell anyone what has happened in case they are sent to stay with their “wicked” Grandmother, Jonah makes the decision to try and convince the outside world that everything is normal, while trying to piece together exactly what has happened to his Mum.
There is a lot to like about this book. Whilst not a unique plot, this is a well-conceived book. The author has a real talent for descriptive passages which evoke the sights, smells and sounds of the tableau she is portraying for the reader. Sometimes I wished they hadn’t been quite so graphic as the description of Jonah and Raff’s house after Lucy left will remain with me for quite a long time and I wish it would go away. The neighbours are an eclectic bunch of weird and wonderful eccentrics who are well developed, if not always entirely plausible – I only wish mine were that interesting! The behavior of Jonah and Raff, both individually and when interacting with each other, rang true and was often sweet and funny, at other times heartbreaking. I didn’t see the twist in the tale coming at all – well done Tamsin.
I did however find that the book was a little slow and repetitive in places which made it drag – hence the three star rating (I should add that there were other places where it was quite a page turner). It was not always a comfortable read either, partly to do with the graphic descriptions alluded to above, but I suppose there is no reason why a good book has to be comfortable.
This is Tamsin’s debut novel and it is definitely worth a read. I’m not sure if I would recommend this particular novel to the faint-hearted but I would certainly read more of her books if I came across them.
Loved this book. Jonah and Raff are lovable, engaging characters, old for their years in some respects, but this is hardly surprising considering their family circumstances. All the characters in the book are interesting and colourful, and though quirky they are entirely believable. Perhaps because thy are seen through the children's eyes - we rarely see the adult's point of view.
It is full of good people, who have done bad things but makes no judgement on them - whether they are right or wrong, good or bad is left to the reader to decide.
There a surprising reveal at the end - perhaps more than one depending on how much the reader managers to deduce from the clues that Jonah uncovers.
Different, and well worth reading.