I really enjoyed this novel. The first thing that caught my eye was the cover…If the cover wasn’t enough once I read the title I knew I had to read it. A couple of my book mates pointed out that the cover was too much like The Goldfinch. However, I didn’t care, I loved it, damnit. Then the small blurbs on the cover! They had me even more intrigued than the name and the cover did. Reading those couple of little bits on the front cover had me wondering…
What happens once we are gone. Who remembers our stories? Who will discover the parts of our lives we never shared? Once we are gone does it even matter? Or is that when it matters most?
I have to say that now that I’ve finished it, I was exactly right. And that is why I loved this book so much. No it’s not really a mystery…I figured out pretty quickly what was going on. But I’m not sure that mattered at all. It certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.
After reading this novel I still am having conversations with myself. I wonder if how well we know those prominent in our life shape most of who we are. If we find out that we actually don’t know them as well as we first believed does that change who we are?
I am also left wondering who suffers the most when we keep part of our lives in the dark. When we, for whatever reasons, can’t be who we are completely in the light of day…well who suffers the most? The person that is hiding part of themselves, the loved ones that really have no clue who their loved ones are? Or is it, perhaps, the people in the shadows that are forced to live there to be with the ones they love?
When I leave a book with these types of questions…well, for me it’s a great day….books like these are why I live to read…sure, I had a few issues with the novel. But at the end of the day, it was thought-provoking. So few books these day are. There are also some really beautiful passages in this novel. Ones I felt compelled to share with others…
Perhaps my favourite quote from the novel:
My mother taught me to read. Not the mechanics of reading – no memorising of tricky words or how to sound out letters – she left all that to my teachers. The lesson she taught mew as a more enduring one. She showed me that it was possible to withdraw into literature: to find your place in a dream-rapt landscape. Her shelves at home were heavy with Victorian and twentieth-century novels, and Hardy was the weightiest of all; Tess of the d’Urbervilles was almost always splayed open by her bedside, where she nightly dipped in and out of Tess’s story. The tragedy of a young girl wronged by parent and man became a sort of talisman for her own life.
I guess I’m one of those people who don’t really mind fan-fiction. Hell, I guess I’m just not smart enough to see it in most books. Maybe because I’m not obsessed with many writings. Or maybe I think we all take inspiration from where we can get it, so I don’t really often see fan-fiction as a knockoff. Some people act like it’s a terrible thing and cheating. Other’s can’t get enough of it. I’ve never been bothered either way. If anything I should think it would be an honour. At the end of the day there are very few original concepts out there…and even then the artists still got their inspiration from somewhere!
Starting this book was like an eye opener. Two chapters in and I was like, “oh shite, I’m not sure I will like this.” I mean it was so obviously “The Breakfast Club”. I was like, “really? are you freaking serious?”
But then again, growing up in the 80’s who can’t say that TBC wasn’t just, the be all, end all of everything 80’s. Who doesn’t love that movie?
Then I got over it, and the book progressed. I won’t say I was shocked at the ending. Or surprised. I won’t say I had it all figured out, but I had a pretty good idea of what happened, just not how all the players tied in together.
At the ending, I wasn’t left feeling cheated. I didn’t feel the author took shortcuts or intentionally mislead.
I wasn’t blown away by it, but I did enjoy it once the novel moved on from TBC type feel. I did go back and forth about which character I liked best (this isn’t a bad thing!). I enjoyed them all. I could also relate to them all (just like in TBC). I wanted good things to happen for all of them.
If this is what McManus has to show us in her debut novel, I seriously can’t wait to see what her next one will be like.
** spoiler alert ** This was hard for me. I just found it a bit far-fetched. I know bad parents exist. I know they hide from the system. However, I find it very hard to believe that Ginny was able to be place for adoption so soon and that no one discovered about baby doll. I understand that no one asked the correct questions for Ginny to explain that the baby doll was real, I just find it hard to believe that social workers never discovered her. Especially since it was obvious Ginny’s mother didn’t want to give up custody. You add to the fact that Ginny’s mother is kinda portrayed as not very intelligent, unstable and very impulsive, well it doesn’t make sense to then have her smart enough and level-headed enough to be able to hide the existence from the authorities. I feel like there would have been some supervised visits between Ginny and her mother before adoption was placed on the table. Especially since drugs were involved and Ginny’s mom went into treatment voluntarily. Maybe it’s different in other states, but when I worked within the system it was evident that the main purpose of the system is to try all means to keep families intact. Even those that (I feel) have no business intact or with parents I felt should never have second chances.
Also, the adoptive mother….I get the whole protective mother thing and maybe even postpartum depression (giving her the benefit of the doubt here) but I just don’t understand the relationship at all. I do get that Ginny might have been very difficult, but still. To turn off like that and then at the end for us all to believe in a HEA ending…it was just too much. Again, I worked within a small part of the system, so I understand that people like this do exist…but it just didn’t mesh for me like it should have in this story.
Even Ginny’s doctor didn’t seem to understand the proper way to communicate with her at times. Yes, I get it. But as a trained professional, she should have understood the basics.
I hope my review is clear, I didn’t dislike Ginny. Or even the story. And certainly not the plight that all the characters found themselves in. I just think the things I mentioned left too much of a stretch for my imagination to believe. It really ruined the whole book for me.
Until next time…
Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review
Parts of this I really loved…I loved how “English” it was….however, overall I couldn’t wait for it to end…and at the end I was reminded why I don’t really enjoy contact with people very much….I much prefer the company of my tarantulas and solitude….this book and the characters in are exactly why…
People just annoy me. If I spend too much time with them, I get, not only annoyed, but highly agitated. I just want them to leave.
That’s how this book was. By the end of it, I was just glad I no longer had to spend any more time with these people.
As funny as it is, this was still my favourite quote in the book…I can’t help it….
The whole plan’s so high on the cheese factor it’s practically Stilton.