I loved this book from Gavin Extence, the author of The Universe versus Alex Woods. I was going to put a link to my review, but just realised I never wrote one for that book. Damn! Anyway, it was about the friendship that developed between a boy and his neighbour and like this book, dealth with serious topics in a gentle and never overbearing way. I think I liked this book a bit more than that one just because I found it easier to connect with the main character, Abby, considering she was female and roughly my age.
This was essentially a character-driven novel with a delicately delivered plot that almost hid in the background and gently crept up on you, shaking you every once in a while to remind you of how important it was.
Told in the first person past tense, this book is about Abby (not Melody, which I originally thought given the title!) from London, who finds her neighbour dead in his armchair. She has little in the way of an emotional response to this and the book explores how she tries to reconcile herself with this fact. We learn pretty early on that Abby has issues with depression and mental illness and this event is the catalyst in bringing these to the fore in her life once again. This book gently explores life in the modern world and our emotions that are often at odds with how it operates.
This book was paced and structured so well that even though the plot wasn’t one that moved at light-speed and was peppered with twists, I was still racing through the pages because I wanted to know how things turned out for Abby. She was a great character, fully fleshed out and neither too much or too little. All the secondary characters were really just there to support Abby and greaten her impact, but they were well done regardless.
A couple of minor things bothered me. Abby and her sister called their father Daddy. It drives me a little mad when grown woman do this and it was repeated quite a lot! And it kind of irks me when characters go on and on about the books they’ve read and sometimes it feels like the author is trying to show off. Abby was a journalist though, so it was obviously a character trait, but it bugs me a bit anyway. Another thing is that I used to smoke and hate to be constantly reminded of it and Abby smoked A LOT! That’s an entirely personal opinion, so don’t let it put you off.
I loved this books focus on character and never felt the plot suffered as a consequence and I’m now a confirmed Gain Extense fan.