Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Review: Home by Amanda Berriman

HomeJesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn't draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

Shona's review 5 of 5 stars

So being totally honest here, I almost gave up on this book. Not once but twice. Yet I've given it 5 stars, that doesn't really make sense though does it? So let me explain.
The narrator of this book is four year old Jesika. To begin with this was more than a little jarring. At four Jesika doesn't have the same understanding of words as an older child or adult would, and Berriman takes advantage of this. This book is Jesika, spelling mistakes, mispronunciation, misunderstanding, four year old. After a little while you barely notice the "errors".
My second reason... one of the harder issues in this book is sexual abuse of a child. Now I know I don't often put spoilers but I felt like this needed to be said, its hinted at in the blurb (and for some reason I didn't pick up on that when I chose this book), however we the reader also find this out fairly early, although our narrator is not as reliable as we are and is unable to translate what she sees the way an adult might. The only reason I was able to continue reading this was because Berriman doesn't actually show us, I couldn't have read that and in fact throughout the book I was on the verge of walking away if it actually became the full focus of the scene.

All of that aside, this was incredibly well written. Told from Jesikas perspective was a very clever choice, because as the adult reading I felt like I needed to be there for Jesika, needed to protect her. On more than one occasion I could feel the lump in my throat form and had to blink back the tears because dammit Jesika needed someone to be strong for her. 
So well written, and so compelling that I picked this up this afternoon just to get a quick feel of it before I had to do the school run, only to find myself utterly engrossed and finishing it in just a few short hours.
I look forward to reading more from Berriman in the future.

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