It’s a very busy day here at TWG, and I am delighted to be kicking the day off with my review of ‘Home’ by Amanda Berriman. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Penguin Books for the ARC. Here is my review:
Jesika 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.
What does TWG think?
Does anyone know if double-sided tape will fix a broken heart? Asking for a friend….
Actually no, I’m not asking for a friend. I’m asking for myself because I still have absolutely no idea how to piece my heart back together after reading ‘Home’. Now I’m not too sure whether my heart broke because the narrative was the voice of a four-year old girl, Jesika, or whether it was because the theme of the book is one that hit home (pardon the pun) rather drastically. Maybe it’s both, I really have no idea. I just know that my heart shattered…
As I’ve just said, ‘Home’ is told by four-year old girl, Jesika. Yep, that’s right – the entire story is written from a four year olds perspective, including the language that a young girl like Jesika may use. Little Jesika doesn’t understand why a man is shouting at her mummy, or why her little brother and mummy are constantly coughing and crying. She also doesn’t understand why the floor is wet in their bedroom or why the big box in the kitchen stops working and makes the house cold.
Whilst Jesika’s situation is heartbreaking in itself and her innocence to the entire situation is enough to make the strongest person melt into a puddle, the storyline became even more heartbreaking as it progressed. I don’t want to give too much away, but a new girl has appeared at Jesika’s playgroup, little Paige, and, whilst Jesika wants to try to take her under her wing as much as a four-year can, there is a lot more to Paige that meets the eye. Way, way more.
I said at the start of this review that the theme of ‘Home’ hit home drastically, and I still stand by that fact because, if you have already read this book, you will understand what I’m about to say and the meaning behind it. However, if you haven’t yet read this book, I urge you to stock up on tissues and all will become clear once you digest the words for yourself…..
I was Paige.
No, I don’t mean that I am actually Paige in this book, I mean that at one point in my life, I was ‘a Paige’. I had endured a situation very similar to hers and I just wanted to reach into the book and protect her from it. But I couldn’t and, as weird as this sounds, I actually felt as though I was letting her down because I couldn’t protect her. Daft eh?
Many readers will be able to relate to ‘Home’ on various different levels. In an ideal world, nobody would be able to relate to the situations covered in the book, but the big wide world isn’t perfect. What I loved most about this book was the way in which Amanda Berriman captured my heart from the very beginning by telling her story via Jesika. I have never read a book which was told from a person as young as Jesika before and I thought it was such a clever way of bringing the heartbreak home. I mean, people need to sit up and take notice of children, don’t they?
I thought the themes were written realistically yet sensitively, keeping the impact of the devastating circumstances as real as possible as though the events were actually unfolding before your eyes. It was hard to read, but then storylines like this shouldn’t be easy to read, should they?
Amanda Berriman is a phenomenal, phenomenal storyteller who has created a suspenseful, heartbreaking novel in the most beautiful way possible. It was flawless and highly emotional, and probably one of the most outstanding books I think I have ever read.
I’m not ashamed to admit that my eyes leaked a bit at the end of the book, nor am I ashamed to admit that my body was exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster I had just read. But, hand on heart, I think that everyone needs to be put under Jesika’s spell as she tells the story of her life in the way that she sees it – innocently.
A stunning portrayal of heartbreak, innocence, and the power of friendship – ‘Home’ is the book of all books to make you feel like you truly are, at home.