Griff and I have a lot in common. We both have a mild Harry Potter obsession; Ron is our favourite member of the heroic trio and we’re both affected by Cedric Diggory’s death more than we think we should be. We also spend a lot of time in our heads, and we both compulsively count. Like Griff, I rely on counting to ease my anxiety. Even numbers are my friends, but I’m not a fan of multiples of six. I avoid the number six as much as I can. The only odd numbers I like are multiples of five and I will sometimes do things more times than I need to if it means getting to a number I feel happy with. That can be small things like switching off a light or shutting a door, but those small things, those habits we allow to build, they can grow into something far less manageable and that is what threatens to happen in History is All You Left Me when Griff’s ex-boyfriend and best friend, Theo, dies unexpectedly. Continue reading “REVIEW: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera”
Oliver Tate is not your average teenager, but in some ways he is. He does what is necessary to fit in at school, wearing his safety goggles on his head, skipping classes and takes part in the bullying of one of his classmates. He takes sex advice from Chips, the ringleader of his group, and is hyper aware of his parents shortcomings. But at the same time he has an intelligence and curiosity that isn’t shared by his peers, and an investment in his parent’s relationship that means he monitors the dimmer switch in their bedroom with far too much intensity. Continue reading “REVIEW: Submarine by Joe Dunthorne”
Spending time with Eleanor Oliphant never felt like a chore. Having a person who doesn’t like to divulge where they live, confide there inner life to you is little short of a gift, and Eleanor’s world was a delight. From the start, Eleanor was more than a character. The moment she walked into her office, past the co-workers who mocked her, she felt real. Even now, I can imagine her insisting I call her Miss Oliphant. In the two and a half days it took me to read the book, I kept updating my sister on Eleanor’s progress as if she was a friend I’d just gotten off the phone with.
What’s surprising is that despite her colourful perspective of the world, Eleanor doesn’t have a life. She has an existence, one that is defined by routine. She works, she eats her Tesco meal deal, she listens to The Archers and every weekend she drinks two bottles of vodka to carry her through to Monday. She doesn’t have friends, a social life or aspirations, she has crosswords and a potted plant. It took me until her first Wednesday night phone call with her mother to realise that it wasn’t that she didn’t want those things, but that she didn’t think she deserved them.
A childhood spent with a cold, cruel mother with lavish tastes and foster families who passed her one time and again, have given Eleanor a limited experience of love and care. She values decorum and good manners over kindness and sincerity because she’s never really known anything else. But then she stumbles across a musician who just might be the one, and in her quest to meet him she inadvertently befriends the IT technician at work who fixes her computer.
Raymond is the complete opposite of Eleanor, driven by emotion over logic. He does things because he feels it’s the right thing to do, rather than because he thinks he should. It was an absolute delight to watch Eleanor watching Raymond with the sceptical fascination of a visitor at the zoo, and how their friendship helped her navigate the hazardous world of social interaction. She’s so fixated on transforming her appearance in preparation for her fateful encounter with the musician that she doesn’t realise how much she’s blossoming from the inside.
Eleanor takes her first tentative steps into the world and realises that you might not need other people, but sometimes you want them. And that’s fine too.
Short story collections aren’t for everyone. I know that, but if you’ve ever thought about giving them a try, then Simon Rich might just surprise you. It’s hard to know what to expect when his stories swing from harrowing tales of hamster captivity to familiar ‘a guy walks into a bar’ jokes that turn into unexpected romances. Rich takes the short story and runs wild. He pokes fun at everyone and everything, including himself, and it’s hard not to laugh with him, even when he’s laughing at you. Continue reading “REVIEW: Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich”
A lot of the time we talk about how good a book was in terms of how quickly we read it. At least, I do. Because if a book refuses to let you go about you’re normal life until you finish reading it, then it’s doing something right. When someone asks me about a book I’ve loved I often gush about it and hear myself saying ‘I read it in X amount of days’. A lot of my favourite books I devoured in one of two sittings, but some of them have been surprisingly slow reads. It took a long time for me to get through Jane Eyre, even though I was completely enamoured by it. I wanted to keep the story with me as long as possible. There was nothing about the prose that made it difficult to read, but I like to let the story wander in my imagination. I’m not one for re-reading really, so I knew that if I did come back to it again it wouldn’t be for some time. So I savoured it. Continue reading “REVIEW: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride”
There have only been a handful of times that I’ve wanted to be friends with the author of a book I’ve read, but Jenny Lawson is one of them. So is Jane Austen, so she’s in good company. Strong, witty women will always find their way into my heart and Lawson has done just that with Furiously Happy.
May was Mental Health Awareness month, so I challenged myself to pick up a book that would put me in the shoes of someone who experiences the world differently to me. Challenge is probably the wrong word because it wasn’t a struggle to read Furiously Happy, it was more difficult pulling myself away. Continue reading “REVIEW: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson”
Being sixteen is hard, being sixteen with a secret is harder. Simon Spier knows what it’s like to keep a part of himself hidden. He’s gay but the only person who knows is his mystery pen-pal Blue. But when Martin the school joker finds Simon’s e-mails to Blue it looks like the truth might come out, whether Simon wants it to or not. The only way to stop Martin from spilling is to help him get closer to Abby, Simon’s friend. Continue reading “REVIEW: Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli”