The blurb states “more than anything, it’s a book about love in all it’s forms.”
I can’t really sum it up better than that.
It is a lovely story about the strong bonds between parents, siblings & friends.
The story is narrated by the main character Elly and is based around the close bond she shares with her older brother Joe. Their friendship tightens when Elly makes Joe hide a horrible secret from their parents when they are only young. After this Elly learns of her brothers homosexuality as he tries to hide it from everybody else. Their curiosity and crude speak whilst they are young give you a mental picture of the family being not very well off. This is an image that is hard to shake later in the book when the family comes in to some money.
Whilst never hearing of it directly there is a lot of different references and hints to molestation and domestic violence during the early stages on the book.
Throughout the book we are introduced to some eccentric charecters – Jenny Penny, Charlie, Nancy, Ginger & Arthur – who all form a strong bond with the family at some stage, bring that something extra to the table and turn what could be a typical ‘following the mould’ book into something a little special.
The book takes you from Elly’s childhood to her grown up years where she is still struggling to find herself and her place in the world.
Sarah Winman uses modern events and tradgedies such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks to bring you in and help you relate to the story.
Overall a great story that, personally, made me think fondly of my relationship with my brother – bar the heart renching secrets. A touching story of strong bonds and the message that you can get through anything with the secure ties of family and friends behind you.