This is a book that’s strength is in the writing. It has an inconspicuous title and cover and even the way the author presents her name, with initials, I think is simple and understated and I liked that. When I saw it in the library I recognised it from the Orange longlist, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have thought to read it.
The story is about Patrick, a 23 year old who seems much younger. He is intelligent and thoughtful but anxious and inappropriate around other people. Narrated in the first person, Patrick’s story is split into two distinct parts. In the first we meet him as he starts his new life in a seaside town boarding house and struggles to interact with the people around him. There is something naieve and sad about Patrick and a hint of something more disturbing. His voice though is very real. We learn that he has struggled with relationships in the past.
Then an extreme, violent event occurs and the second part of the book deals with the aftermath of that and how the characters cope with it. It is a very moving story, full of things to think about afterwards. It’s about personal responsibililty and freedom, about how a person copes or doesn’t with their daily lives and the fine line that divides the two.
This is the second book I have read from this years Orange Longlist along with The Lacuna which made the shortlist but This is How didn’t. I think both of these books are great but so different. I imagine it must be really hard for the judges to compare and come up with a shortlist and then a winner – I shall look out for that with interest.
2009, 320 pages