Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 31st December 2015
Our memories are what make us who we are. Some are real. Some are made up. But they are the stories that tell us who we are. Without them we are nobody.
Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to ‘find himself” and Kat is in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding. Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby.
Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one even knew existed, comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia. Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery — Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are erased from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future. – GR
√. Hattie as a main character was brilliant. She is so complex and mature for her age, and Furniss does a great job of making her real. Even though I haven’t been in her position (hiding a teenage pregnancy), I felt like I could relate completely to her.
√. A thought that stuck with me while I was reading this was how Hattie was such a strong female character without having to be physical fighter. Her strength came from feeling her emotions, feeling scared and being brave enough to hold her head high, empathise with those around her, and carry on.
√. Similarly, I really liked Gloria. She completely didn’t fit the stereotype of the old lady, sporting garish clothes, heavy makeup and a taste for champagne rather than tea. As with all of the characters in this book, she wasn’t two dimensional at all. Every time you thought you knew everything about her, something else was thrown in to enrich either her character or the plot. And all the while, she didn’t become the plot of her dementia, which made it even more emotional.
√. Despite the characters being so great, it was the message that really did it for me with this book. Like I said earlier, the emphasis isn’t on shutting out the world and not being scared, it’s about feeling it and being brave because of it. The message wasn’t just directed at Hattie either – it was used in relation to the secondary characters too, whether it be Reuben or Hattie’s family. I just thought it was great that it wasn’t complete tunnel vision on Hattie and that the other characters mattered too.
√. No preaching. That is a major positive of this book. The topic of abortion and adoption is discussed and considered by Hattie but it never sounds like the author wants you to take a particular standpoint on whether you should agree or disagree with it. I am pro choice (with conditions) but never felt like my opinion was portrayed as being wrong or right. In that way, I think this book can be for everyone, no matter what your views are.
√. The writing and the characters in this book make it seem like it is beyond YA, really. I noticed a few other reviewers have said this and I completely agree that Hattie’s maturity and darker subject matters are more New Adult. It can be a positive or a negative depending on your comfort zone but if you don’t feel ready to branch out from YA, this could be a great transitional book. Give it a try!
✘. There are flashbacks to the fifties and sixties in this book when exploring Gloria’s past, and those include racist language and domestic abuse. Just a heads up if you are sensitive to that kind of language. If it upsets you, you might want to give this one a miss.
This book is so under-appreciated! It was really great!
Let me know if you’ll be checking it out or your thoughts if you have already read it in the comments!