Monday, 22 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'What A Way To Go' by Julia Forster (*****)

Hello readers, and happy Monday! Today I am delighted to be able to share with you another book review - this time a 5* review of the wonderful What A Way To Go by Julia Forster. I am currently on holiday in Cornwall and therefore to have lots of time to get through my towering TBR pile. I received What A Way To Go way back in February and it sat on my university room bookshelf for so many months but I just never got around to reading it. So I packed it in my suitcase this summer, determined to read it and finally tick it off my TBR list! 

I was kindly sent What A Way To Go by Ruth Killick publicity (on behalf of Atlantic Books) in exchange for an honest review :)

What A Way To Go follows twelve-year-old Harper Richardson as she comes to terms with her parents' divorce, the impending selling of her house, and a crush on the boy from the Lone Ranger's single parent's club. As a kid stuck in the middle of a very adult world, Harper has a lot of questions - and the sharp feeling of responsibility when it comes to fixing other people's lives, and keeping everyone happy. But sometimes in life there are things that happen that are beyond your control, and Harper has a hard time accepting this.

Sound intriguing? Check out the blurb here...

1988. 12-year-old Harper Richardson's parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents' club. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest for life, two gerbils, and her Chambers dictionary, and the responsibility of fixing her parents' broken hearts. Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl tackling the business of growing up while those around her try not to fall apart.

As you can probably tell from the 5*s, I absolutely adored What A Way To Go. It was such a comforting read, with a fantastic narrator, that really made me think about the importance of family and the various shapes and sizes family can come in. Although Harper's parents are divorced, and are not on the best of terms with each other, Harper has a happy life at home with her Mum and Kit, then has weekends with her Dad that are spent attending Lone Ranger's single parents club events, and listening to her Dad reminisce about the war. I felt like this is a book that could have been written in such a dispiriting and depressing way, but the way Forster wrote it - the book couldn't have been more warm and delightful. 

One of the highlights of the novel was undoubtedly the narration by Harper. It was wonderfully warm and witty, and astonishingly true to life. Forster perfectly captures what it feels like to be on the cusp of adolence; the feeling of having the whole world at your feet, yet the painful reluctance of never wanting to grow up. At times Harper's assessment of what was going on around her was hilarious, and at other times heartbreaking. By the end of the novel I found myself caring desperately about her, and wanting everything to work out for the best. You can easily mark the greatness of an author by how much you care about the characters they created, and I cared deeply about all of the characters in What A Way To Go.

While we're on the topic of characters, I thought the characterisation in What A Way To Go was flawless. I loved the character of Harper's mum and found her dialogue to be fresh, funny and thoroughly unique. She is written in such a complex way and I loved how you learned so much more about her through her relationship with Harper. I also enjoyed the fact that Harper's parents were so completely different, which was really interesting to read about, to see how differently Harper acted with both of them. Kit was also a standout character - and I loved reading about how his relationship with Harper developed and how he became much more of a father figure to her. Harper's friend Cassie was adorable and their conversations were so realistically written - the only fault I can point out is that I wished there had been more chapters that focused on Harper's friendship with Cassie so we could learn more about her life.

I adored the setting of the novel in a small English town in the 1980s, and although I definitely wasn't alive then, I definitely enjoyed the little nuances of nostalgia that decorated the story. Although this was a comforting read, there were also dark and important themes running throughout, such as politics, mental health, and economic hardship. From this novel one definitely got a clear understanding of what it was like to live through Thatcher's Britain, and how the problem social immobility felt today was also a thing of the past. As well as thoroughly enjoying this book, I also learned a lot, and the innocent, funny, fresh voice of Harper Richardson allowed me to reflect on these topics long after I had turned the last page. 

So overall, I think it is pretty evident that I loved What A Way To Go! It is definitely one of those books that are under-hyped, and if you haven't got it in your life then I would thoroughly recommend that you pick it up - I guarantee that you be disappointed!

Buy What A Way To Go here:

Check out Julia Forster here:

Until next time :)

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