Since it’s my holidays I’ve been reading even more than usual so here are some more reviews of books I’ve finished recently: Another from the Costa First Novel shortlist which I bought on offer from The Book People. I need to tell you, before I get into reviewing this book, that I am a sucker for any book with a child narrator. I think it started with To Kill A Mockingbird which I studied for GCSE. I loved the way that such vile and ‘adult’ themes as racism could be seen so differently through a child’s eyes and what an amazing perspective that gives.This preference has never left me; whenever I start a new book and realise the narrator is a child, I always feel excited and I have never been disappointed.
So. A Song For Issy Bradley was onto a winner as soon as I realised that it had not one, but two child narrators. Well, strictly they are not narrating, rather the chapters focus on their perspectives. The eponymous Issy is the youngest of the Bradley children and the book (spoiler ahead) is a discourse on how her Mormon family: parents, older sister and two older brothers, cope with her death. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different family member. Her Bishop father believes all will be well if the family just carries on as her mother takes to her bed in a depression which must be hidden from the church. Sister Zippy must balance her grief with taking on tasks her mother is neglecting whilst brother Al rages against the Mormon world. It is younger brother Jacob whose chapters I looked forward to the most. Too young to really understand what has happened, a miracle involving a goldfish makes him believe he can raise Issy from the dead.
I absolutely loved this book. There were times when I wanted to cry, times when I wanted to cheer the characters on and even times when I raised the odd chuckle. Along the way I learned some interesting facts about the Mormon faith. I would definitely advise people to read this book; it deals with pretty heavy subjects: Death and faith, but it does it in a magical way. Yet again, I cannot believe that this is Carys Bray’s first novel! From a first novelist to a prolific and successful writer. I thought I had read an Adele Parks novel before but, when I checked the bibliography, it turns out I hadn’t. I chose a good one to start with because this is another book I would heartily recommend.
I’m choosing to believe that blogging about books I like shows that I’m becoming a more cheery person since the only reviews I’ve submitted to Amazon have been on books I’ve really hated. Just call me Little Miss Happy!
Back to the novel. This is another book told from the perspectives of different characters. The main protagonists, Dean and Joanna, meet on an aeroplane as he is returning home to Chicago and she is rushing to stop her ex’s wedding after she’s convinced herself that he is ‘the one.’ What follows is a weekend in Chicago told from Jo’s and Dean’s perspective; with chapters interspersed from Dean’s dying father and Jo’s mother.
I won’t reveal too much because this is a fantastic book which you should discover for yourself. There are twists and turns along the way an you, the reader, are privy to important information which Jo and Dean do not know. The ending kind of blindsided me and yet I was also sort of expecting it. Either way, it moved me; which is something which will always make a book memorable!
(Edited because when I added tags last night, my paragraphs disappeared. Why?)