November 09

Islands by Peggy Frew

If I were stuck on a deserted island, this is a book I definitely would not want with me. I am sorry to say Readheads, this one really wasn’t for me.

Perhaps I am on an island with this review and am alone in my dislike of the story however, I doubt it. The way the story jumped all over the place left me wondering if I was quite right in the head to be honest and I was left re-reading sections, double checking pages, doing anything I could to make sense of it all.

Sadly, it started off with a bang and I was so excited I nearly texted a book-loving friend to say ‘grab it’. Thank goodness I did not. I would not have been able to live the recommendation down.

This experience was probably more traumatising because I loved Hope Farm, Frew’s earlier novel. Loved it! I am even sadder to report I could not finish this one. I tried everything but 3/4s of the way through I had to abandon it along with my strength as a book blogger.

Essentially this book is about a family in crisis. The parents John and Helen are so consumed by their own failings and the disintegration of their marriage that they fail to see the accompanying disintegration and despair of their daughters Junie and Anna. Both girls react differently to the family break up – one grows quietened, brittle, defensive. The other caustic and rebellious.

One day, one of the daughters goes out and she never comes home and worse still, she is only 15. And inevitably the ruptures deepen and there is no going back or healing for anyone.

The style of the story is like a huge jigsaw – lots of different pieces and perspectives coming together at different times to highlight the disparity, the breakdowns, the complexities of heartbreaking loss and grief and wondering. I get what Peggy Frew was trying to do. I just could not keep up with it all and I was just left with a whole lot of wondering myself.

If you could keep up, and you loved it, please let me know. I won’t feel better for me, but I will for the author.

But that is just my 2 cents worth…or 1 cent as the case may be today.