Home by Amanda Berriman
Publishing Date: 8th February 2018
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 352
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
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.
“Home” is Amanda Berriman’s debut novel and I knew I want to read it as soon as I’ve received an email from NetGalley with a short extract from it. It is not the easiest book – storyline – wise – but it is also a read that will have you gripped and that won’t let you go.”Home” was not the easiest read. It made my stomach turn and I wanted to slap one of the characters with my bare hands. It was heart – breaking, probably because it was so close to reality, and I think the fact that the author handed over the narration in the little Jesika’s hands made it even more harder and it totally mess with our emotions.
Jesika, as a narrator, works brilliantly. She’s not too mature even though she knows a lot – she’s just a very sensible, vulnerable child that experiences things that she shouldn’t experience. Seeing world through her eyes is authentic and genuine and honest and you are immediately drawn in – we see things through the four – year – old girl’s perspective and those things are perfectly portrayed. We can totally relate to what it is to be a four – year – old and how it is to be a child in this grim reality where the adults not always take you seriously, how it is to be powerless, how hard it is to attract adult’s attention to what is really important. The way Amanda Berriman got into Jesika’s head and told us this story is actually breath – taking.
However, I am in minority here with my opinion, I know, and while I absolutely, totally appreciate what the author has tried to achieve with her story, it just didn’t work for me on all the levels. I am not sure what Amanda Berriman wanted to tell us here and on what should I focus. The two main storyline, the one about Jesika and her family and then Jesika and her friend Paige felt for me under – developed. They were started off but the execution has felt for me here. The subplot with Paige annoyed me incredibly, I just couldn’t believe that her mother didn’t see the obvious. There were parts in this story that I reckon were not necessary, like Jesika spending time at the foster family – I just think this book could do without it.
But even though it was a hard book to read because of the topics it touches upon, a sense of building dread because you know what’s coming, it was easy to read. The writing style is seamless and it effortlessly transports us to Jesika’s world and it is very realistic. It is not overdone, actually it is worryingly close to life and you easily imagine all the things happening. However, it is not only doom and gloom, as there are some uplifting things in the story as well – the power of friendship, of finding allies when you’re not expecting it at all.
Altogether, “Home” was absorbing, gripping and heart – breaking read with realistic characters that you quickly fell for and with very realistic topics, pointing at the importance of being open and of communication between parents and children. Written with a lot of understanding and subtlety and ultimately I think it was me, and not the book that wasn’t quite right. It was a powerful read and I can’t put my finger on what was wrong for me but it just didn’t work for me as much as I’d like it to. However, don’t let me to dispirit you, just go and read this book and you’ll see for yourself how powerful and emotional it is. I am already looking forward to Ms Berriman’s another book.