7 January 2016
This is an imaginative and quirky coming of age story which looks at the power of love, the value of friends, and family and the strength and courage of a wise and witty twelve year old girl.
Twelve year old Harper Richardson’s life is split between her two estranged parents. Mostly, she lives with her mum, Mary and gets to visit her dad, Pete, only at weekends. This arrangement seems to suit everyone but Harper, who, whilst she appears to be a remarkably astute twelve year old, has all the vulnerabilities of a child whose life is at odds with itself.
Set in 1988 and focusing on living life amongst social leftovers, Harper finds that growing up is a difficult business especially when money is tight and when even the prospect of buying two pet gerbils seems to be beyond her financial capabilities. However, Harper is not without resolve and with great gusto she sets about putting her life, and the lives of those around her, to rights.
There is much to enjoy within the story; Harper is a feisty protagonist, full of lively wit and perceived wisdom, and she romps through life making crisp observations about what’s going on around her, from her first teenage crush, to her mother’s friendship with Kit an unlikely champion who sleeps on a zed bed in her mother’s bedroom, or even to attending events at the Lone Rangers singles club with her careworn father.
This is a really imaginative and nicely written coming of age story, which will have you laughing out loud one minute, especially when you get to Harper's unorthodox method of defrosting prawns, and then sobbing into your handkerchief the next, when she explores the concept of grief. I fell completely in love with Harper‘s character and so wanted life to treat her kindly, whether it does, or not, is for you to discover on reading this lovely, lovely story for yourself.
Best read with a prawn cocktail smothered in Marie Rose sauce and copious glasses of supermarket own brand cola, clinking with ice.
About the Author
Author photo © Alice Hendy
Julia Forster was born and raised in the Midlands. She studied Philosophy and Literature at the University of Warwick and has a Masters in Creative Writing from St Andrews University. While at the University of Warwick, she was awarded the Derek Walcott prize for creative writing. She works in publishing, but has also been a magician's assistant in Brooklyn, a nanny in Milan and a waitress in Chartres. Julia now lives in mid Wales with her husband and two young children.
I read this book as part of the Lovereading ,co.uk Readers Review Panel.
My thanks to Lovereading.co.uk and Atlantic Books for my review copy of this book.
My thanks also to the Curtis Brown Book Club for making What A Way To Go January's book group read and for also sending me a copy of this book.