Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit & Crimson Shore (www.gillianhamer.com)
What we thought: I’m not sure why it took me so long to read one of this author’s books, but I am extremely glad I finally did.
Everything about this novel surprised me - from the title to the final page it was a joy. A story that weaves three unlikely characters together in a gripping web. After the stabbing of teacher, Jim Stevens, in the schoolyard we see incidents unravel through the eyes of 14-year old Shamayal Thomas whose character is a total revelation. Despite breaking down innumerable barriers, rules and taboos he somehow manages to bring together Jim and another teacher, Ayisha Emmanuelle, who all find strength in each following the stabbing event and subsequent repercussions.
The flashbacks to Jim’s early life, while he struggles with life and death in hospital, are poignant and moving, and add yet another level of intensity to the novel.
There are so many layers in this novel to enjoy, so many subtleties that make you laugh aloud and wallow in the enjoyment of super writing. Characterisation sparkles like a diamond, each individual comes to life and breathes emotion in the storyline. Excellent pacing, excellent use of language and excellent social awareness made this a joy to read.
If you want to laugh and cry and stamp and cheer – all in the space of a few hours of reading – then this book is one for you. Highly recommended.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Polly Courtney, Ali Smith, Claire Fuller.
Avoid if you don’t like: Savvy teenagers and broken hearts.
Ideal accompaniments: Burger and fries with a Diet Coke.
Genre: Literary Fiction.