So I hadn’t heard much about this book, but I was grateful to receive a copy from Simon & Schuster publishers (in exchange for an honest review) as the premise looked interesting.
The story follows Ruth, a single woman who moves back home for a year while to help her Mum care for her Dad who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. With a small cast of characters, this book explores family and romantic relationships and the bittersweet feeling of coming home.
Khong has written this book in diary format from Ruth’s perspective, and while it starts out as somewhat regular prose (the kind of journal writing style you’d expect), it slowly morphs into one or two lines per day, headlined in months. While I feel like this writing style could potentially be polarising, I didn’t mind it at all because it makes sense with the storyline and the events of the book. I actually kind of enjoy the stilted style it ‘devolved’ in to, as Khong still managed to make the story flow very nicely through it.
In terms of characterisation in the book, I was left feeling like a few key personalities were left a bit underdeveloped (i.e. the mum, Bonnie, Theo, and Linus). We got to meet a bunch of funny, individual, witty characters but never quite get to know them properly, which was a shame because I feel like it could have really added to the relationships in the book (especially the family ties and tensions). This was probably my biggest sticking point in the book, and it did stop me from enjoying it as much as I think I could have.
However, despite this not being my near my top read of the year so far, it was still dotted with real emotion and feeling. One of my favourite parts reads “what imperfect carriers of love we are, and what imperfect givers”, and it’s thoughts and comments like this from Ruth that redeemed the book in my eyes.
Rating: While I didn’t love this book, it’s certainly got some great reviews out there, so don’t let it put you off! I’d recommend this book to readers who don’t mind letting their imagination fill a few gaps. and are looking for a short read.
If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know your thoughts on it! Hit me up in the comments 🙂 Or if you haven’t read it, do you like the diary-style writing in novels, or do you prefer regular prose?
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.