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A stunning debut novel that deservedly has won plaudits and received wonderful reviews, as well as making the Guardian First Novel shortlist.

I am sorry it too me so long to read this, I could have enriched my reading months ago, it’s a warm, funny, descriptive, sad novel and all those emotions sometimes are in the same sentence. Told in an original funny voice, which if you can read with that voice in your head makes it a really brilliant read.
Beginning as she is born the story is told from Janie viewpoint and Hudson brings a different angel for the reader to see life from. She’s just the latest in a long line of Ryan women, Aberdeen fishwives to the marrow, always ready to fight. Her violet-eyed Grandma had predicted she’d be sly, while blowing Benson and Hedges smoke rings over her Ma’s swollen belly. In the hospital, her family approached her suspiciously, so close she could smell whether they’d had booze or food for breakfast.

The story begins and continues for most at a frantic pace as Janie, her Ma and her sister, Tiny follow “love” around the country trying to start a new life for themselves and get out of the council estates they are invariably located into by the social services. It is a story of love, heartbreak, dreams, and desperate friendships. There are also lovely reminders of the 80’s, Timotei shampoo and Tammy Girl, and there are many brilliant passages such as the description of “Ma” sitting on her bed or how Janie spends hours in the library.

As Janie reaches sixteen the story slows and she is reflective on who she is and how she got there, leaving open I feel an opportunity for a sequel. Hudson forces the reader to question how we make assumptions about the we see people; it asks the question, what do we really know about people we see who don’t live like us? You often see in a review that the story will say with you, however this wonderful novel really does. It’s on my Christmas pick list for our customers as a “must-read”.

Vintage/ 9780701186395/Paperback/£12.99

Sheila O’Reilly

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