The End We Start WithTitle: The End We Start From

Author: Megan Hunter

Pages: 140 Pages

Publisher: Grove Atlantic

The Blurb

The End We Start From is strange and powerful, and very apt for these uncertain times. I was moved, terrified, uplifted – sometimes all three at once. It takes skill to manage that, and Hunter has a poet’s understanding of how to make each word count.”—Tracy Chevalier

Pre-empted by publishers around the world within days of the 2016 London Book Fair, The End We Start From heralds the arrival of Megan Hunter, a dazzling and unique literary talent. Hunter’s debut is a searing original, a modern-day parable of rebirth and renewal, of maternal bonds, and the instinct to survive and thrive in the absence of all that’s familiar.

As London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place, shelter to shelter, to a desolate island and back again. The story traces fear and wonder, as the baby’s small fists grasp at the first colours he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

Written with poise and poeticism, The End We Start From is an indelible and elemental first book—a lyrical vision of the strangeness and beauty of new motherhood, and a portentous tale of endurance in the face of ungovernable change.

The Review

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter is a dystopian fiction lover’s dream. Set on the road, a family try to survive when their home of London is flooded beyond recognition. This story of survival is twisted and haunting.

Megan Hunter’s stop/start style of writing really connects the reader to the chaos and insecurity being felt by the main characters. The lack of character names again adds to the disjointed quality and you can’t help but feel the disparate nature between adults who knew what the world was like before and the children who will only ever know this crazy fight for survival.

Considering that The End We Start From is only a short book it does have a serious bite to it. I was left thinking about it long after it had ended.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter is available in November 2017.

For more information regarding Megan Hunter please visit her Twitter page (@meganfnhunter)

For more information regarding Grove Atlantic (@groveatlantic) please visit www.groveatlantic.com.

3 Stars

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineTitle: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Pages: 327 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

A stunning debut. Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

The Review

Curious and charming. These are the words that I would us to describe the delightful debut by Gail Honeyman.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of (surprisingly) Eleanor Oliphant. A 30-something girl who lives live in a very structured way. She gets up, goes to work, has her lunch, does the crossword, goes home, and sleeps. She repeats this rigmarole with almost robotic precision. But there is something behind the routine and something about Eleanor.

Throughout the novel we see Eleanor open herself up to new possibilities, new friendships and new experiences and whilst all this is happening she is dealing with the ghosts of the past that are haunting her.

To use the word journey seems so corny and trivial but that is exactly what Eleanor Oliphant is on in this book. We, the readers, go along for the ride; we discover just exactly what it was that made Eleanor the way she is alongside her. It isn’t a unique concept in books but it is one that is executed magnificently.

Eleanor Oliphant is a book that even the hardest of hearts would find hard not to enjoy.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is available now.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit www.harpercollins.co.uk.

4 Stars

AdamTitle: Adam

Author: Ariel Schrag

Pages: 316 Pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Blurb

When Adam Freedman—a skinny, immature, and lackluster high school student from Piedmont, California—is sent by his parents to join his older sister Casey in New York City, he is hopeful that his life is about to change. And it sure does.

It is the Summer of 2006—the year of gay marriage demonstrations and the rise of transgender rights—and Casey has thrust herself into New York’s fringe lesbian, sexual, and political scene. Accustomed to being a social misfit, Adam now finds himself part of a wild subculture complete with underground clubs, drinking, and friendly women who take a surprisingly intense interest in him. It takes some time for him to realize many in this new crowd assume he is transgendered—a boy who was born a girl—or else why would he always be around? But then he meets Gillian, the girl of his dreams. If only she weren’t a lesbian! And if only she didn’t believe he was really (sort of) a girl.

Ariel Schrag’s scathingly funny and poignant debut novel puts a fresh spin on questions of love, attraction, self-definition, and what it takes to be at home in your own skin.

The Review

There are certain check lists that I have that let me know whether the book I am reading is enjoyable – sure there are the obvious ones such as great storyline, likeable characters, exciting setting but there is one thing that is bound to make me really enjoy a book. I can’t help it; I am a sucker for a coming of age story.

Adam is a coming of age story.

Adam is a 17 year old boy who has travelled to New York to spend the summer with his sister Casey. His life at home is going nowhere, his “friends” are tools, his mum’s overprotective nature is stifling and he just wants to be – for want of a better word – “normal”.

When Adam gets to Casey’s New York apartment he gets thrust into New Yorks LGBT scene with some interesting results. He meets new people, learns about a society that he hadn’t really understood before, becomes closer to his sister and he falls in love. I mean, Adam falls hard!

Unfortunately, Adam is mistaken for someone else. Adam’s moral dilemma is should he come clean about his deceit or should he keep enjoying the benefits…he’s only in New York for the summer, what harm can it do?

Adam is a brilliant story which highlights so many issues: growing up, the cruelness of teenagers, transgender society. It really is a melting pot of subplots and was bloody compelling. Not only that but I personally felt that I learned so much from this book about the LGBT community that I didn’t know. It really was a great read.

Adam by Areil Schrag is available now.

For more information regarding Areil Schrag (@arielschrag) please visit www.arielschrag.com.

For more information regarding Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo) please visit www.hmhco.com.

35 Stars

The Hate You GiveTitle: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

Pages: 444 Pages

Publisher: Walker Books

The Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

 

The Review

Holy Cow!

I love it when a book lives up to its hype and The Hate U Give certainly does.

Angie Thomas has tackled a contentious issue (racism and the Black Lives Matter campaign) and packaged it for teenagers. I feel that this was a really ambitious topic to tackle for many reasons but the main one being how do you explain to young adults such a brutal and horrific subject knowing that these things happen in real life. Books are escapism but you have to be real otherwise people won’t want to read on. Thomas does this beautifully.

The story of Starr and her experience of watching a friend be gunned down by a policeman – the people who are supposed to protect you – is beyond comprehension. The Hate U Give deals with the aftermath, how rival gangs influence certain cities, the feeling of helplessness and above all the growing feeling that police in America are being given a free pass to kill people as long as they say they were doing it in self defence.

The Hate U Give packed a massive emotional punch and for a debut novel was ridiculously good. If this is Angie Thomas’s first offering then I can’t wait to see what she will do next.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is available now.

For more information regarding Angie Thomas (@acthomasbooks) please visit www.angiethomas.com.

For more information regarding Walker Books (@WalkerBooksYA) please visit www.walker.co.uk.

5 Stars

When love is blindTitle: When Love is Blind

Author: Mary Burchell

Pages: 147 Pages

Publisher: Endeavour Press

The Blurb

Dreams have been dashed…

Antoinette Burney, a more than promising music student, is disappointed and furious when the famous concert pianist Lewis Freemont fails her in an exam.

To make matters worse, he tells her forthrightly that she will never make the grade as a professional pianist.

Her hopes and dreams of success and notoriety are all destroyed in a single blow.

She doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to forgive him.

But it would seem that fate has other ideas and the tables are quickly turned, making Antoinette the innocent cause of the accident that, in destroying Lewis Freemont’s sight, destroys his career as well.

Subdued by his debilitating condition and the knowledge that he will never play the piano again, Lewis quickly becomes a shell of his former self.

Horrified and remorseful, when Antoinette gets a chance to make some sort of amends — by becoming Lewis’s secretary — she seizes it with both hands.

Just when she thought life couldn’t get any more complicated, Antoinette soon finds herself falling in love with the man that only a few weeks ago, she despised.

But what will Lewis do when, as inevitably he must, he discovers who she really is?

Full of hope and broken dreams, When Love is Blind is a heartfelt tale about never giving up.

The Review

If you are a fan of the classical romance then When Love is Blind is the book for you. Originally written in 1968, Mary Burchell delivers a story of love. Part Beauty and the Beast part Cyrano de Bergerac, the story focuses on Antoinette Burney; once music student whose career was cruelly ended by Lewis Freemont a concert pianist with too sharp a tongue. Overcoming the animosity due to Lewis Freemont’s sudden blindness, the course of love doesn’t run smoothly.

This is only a short novel but it one that has stood the test of time. It has aged beautifully. When Love is Blind is a classic story of love overcoming diversity and I really enjoyed reading it.

When Love is Blind by Mary Burchell is available now.

For more information regarding Endeavour Press (@EndeavourPress) please visit www.endeaourpress.com.

3 Stars