Title: Saltwater (review copy)
Author: Jessica Andrews
Genre/Themes: Literary Fiction, Emotional Read, Coming of Age, North East England, Class Divide, Family History and Dynamics
Blurb from Goodreads
Lucy is lost. Growing up in the north east she wanted more. When others were thinking about the Nissan factory or call centres she was thinking about Pete Doherty, poetry and the possibilities London seemed to offer. University was the way out, her ticket to the promised land – where she’d become a shinier version of herself, where her nights would be gigs and parties and long exciting conversations about Judith Butler.
But once she gets there Lucy can’t help feeling that the big city isn’t for her, and once again she is striving, only this time it’s for the right words, the right clothes, the right foods. No matter what she tries she’s not right. Until she is. In that last year of her degree the city opens up to her, she is saying the right things, doing the right things. Until her parents visit for her graduation and events show her that her life has always been about pretending and now she’s lost all sense of who she is and what she’s supposed to be doing.
And so Lucy packs up her things and leaves again, this time for her dead Irish grandfather’s stone cottage in a remote part of Donegal. There, alone, she sets about piecing together her history hoping that in confronting where she came from she will know where she should be going.
What a hauntingly beautiful reading experience this book was.
It’s written in extremely short chapters in a non-chronological manner that could so easily have felt too disjointed but magically it didn’t: the prose was simply too engaging, the innermost thoughts of the main character too painfully honest.
This book somehow found order in the chaos of life and it made Lucy’s story feel like my story even though we are nothing alike.
She was just a beautifully complicated character that was trying to make sense of her relationship with her family and it made it so easy to empathise with her.
The book primarily focuses on her relationship with her mother, alcoholic father and her brother with each relationship so delicately described.
I feel bereft of words. I simply can’t express how gorgeously written this was.
Highly recommended to people who enjoy emotional literary fiction.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Hodder and Stoughton, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*