Cannonball Read 6, Book 53: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

21840310This should have been my Cannonball. One of the joys of becoming a Cannonball Reader and starting this blog has been occasionally managing to get my hands on an advance reading copy of an upcoming novel. And this one, which is published mid January 2015, is a real treat. It’s being touted as the next Gone Girl and the first must read book of 2015. SJ Watson, who made a huge splash with his own debut novel a few years back, is quoted on the cover. And for once, the book lives up to the hype.

 

To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.

Just goes to show.”

Rachel takes the same train to work every day. And every day, the train stops at a red signal where Rachel can see into the house of a seemingly perfect couple. She observes them doing nauseating Perfect Couple things and she creates names and narratives for them in her mind. Then one day, Rachel sees something she shouldn’t and when one half of said Perfect Couple is then reported missing, Rachel is pulled into a mystery, one that becomes more dangerous with every turn. And Rachel has secrets of her own….

Hawkins clearly owes a debt to Hitchcock and to Christie with the set up of her debut. And with a central character who can’t recall a pivotal event along with a shady member of the medical profession who may or may not be involved, it also owes a slight debt to SJ Watson. And I was reminded of the long forgotten 80s Jane Fonda film, The Morning After. So that’s a lot of influences and homages, but Hawkins uses all of that as a framework to hang a very identifiable character on. Rachel is wholly three dimensional, deeply flawed, hugely frustrating, but you want her to succeed in finding out what happened to her Perfect Couple as much as you want to smack her upside the head and shout “GET A GRIP, LADY”.

Hawkins has written what can only really be described as an accomplished debut. It pulls you in right from the start and she handles the shift in narrative voices very well. They’re all easily distinguished (and if any reader doesn’t want to knife the awful smug new mother who pops up, then more power to you) and well crafted. I couldn’t put it down and burned through it in a matter of days. I had a couple of issues with the ending. Having set everything up so meticulously, Hawkins does make a bit of a mess when she knocks it all down. But the mess isn’t so awful that you can’t forgive it. It’s more a new puppy peeing on the rug than your awful ex spilling a glass of red wine on your cream carpet.

Essentially, it’s a great book and if you love twisty little thrillers, then 2015 is going to start very well for you.

 

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Cannonball Read 6, Book 50: Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

18104711I love a good thriller. Anyone who’s been reading my reviews since I started Cannonballing will have noticed that I’m a bit partial to a Sophie Hannah here, a Val McDermid there. So this much talked about debut from Paula Daly, with its intriguing tagline of “Your friend’s child is missing. It’s your fault” seemed right up my street. So it’s a shame it ended up leaving me flat.

Our put upon heroine is Lisa Kallisto. Living in the quiet Lake District, she’s a working mother of three kids, so she’s a bit pushed busywise, is Lisa. Her best friend is posh Kate, who’s married to well to do Guy. Their children are besties with Lisa’s children. When Lisa takes her eye off the ball over a planned sleepover at her house with her teenage daughter Sally and Kate’s daughter Lucinda, then Lucinda vanishes, leaving Lisa held responsible, wracked with guilt and determined to get to the bottom of what’s happened. Lucinda isn’t the first girl in the area to go missing though, and when the first girl turns up stripped naked and shellshocked by her ordeal, Lisa goes into a desperate tailspin as she races against the clock to find Lucinda.

See how that should be quite gripping? But Daly is so hellbent on trying to show us how Lisa’s life is beset with domestic normality and working class drudgery, that whole swathes of the book are devoted to banging on about her busy life and are not that interesting. Once we get into the investigation, alternate chapters go to DC Joanna Aspinall, told in the 3rd  person and again, tons of time given over to her awkward living arrangements and her pursuit of a breast reduction. It makes for fully rounded characters, yes. It also makes for some dull reading in what is supposed to be a thriller.

I would forgive that amount of extraneous faffery if the story being told was a cracking one, but this ended up falling short. All the clues as to what’s happened to Lucinda are uncovered by chance and coincidence. The mystery behind the other girls who are disappearing and then showing back up naked and abused is resolved by a tip off from the public. And when the full unpleasant truth as to where Lucinda went and why is unravelled, it’s both so lame and far-fetched as to cause much rolling of eyes and comments of “bitch, please” from the reader. Disappointing. But enough glimmers of talent shone through that I’d be willing to give her next book a try. Let’s see how it goes.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 48: The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer

16120760‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

Nathan Filer won the Costa Book of the Year award last year  for this intensely well crafted debut novel, and now I have read it, I wholeheartedly agree with their decision. He also rightly won the First Novel award from Costa as well. The story is a relatively straightforward one, of a teenager’s descent into schizophrenia, but said teenager is also our narrator, so things are not always as simple as they appear. Mathew Homes was a perfectly happy boy with a brother he adored. His brother Simon has Downs Syndrome and is adored by the whole family. But, as Mat unflinchingly states, Simon died at a very young age, which starts Mathew down his path of mental disarray.

Mathew is writing his story of his descent into the depths of schizophrenia on an old typewriter given to him by his Nan, interspersed with his ongoing story of his journey back to square one. The differing fonts and styles are elegantly rendered and make this book an aesthetic joy as well as a literary one. It is very intelligently written, Mathew’s feeling that he’s fine and coping when it’s clear in everything he’s saying that the opposite is the case makes for some emotionally tough reading.

And as Mat slowly peels away the layers of memory and misremembering into what exactly happened with Simon’s death, the emotional punches just keep on coming. Mat has always blamed himself for what happened and so “this is my care plan: As a small boy, I killed my own brother and now I must kill him again. I’m given medicine to poison him, then questioned to make sure he’s dead”. The last third of this book is properly wrenching and making it through the final chapter dry eyed is no mean feat. It’s a great book, brimming with heart and never looking away from the emotional rawness that comes with long term grief and blame. It’s not an easy read, but it’s most definitely a worthwhile one. Highly recommended.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 32: The Quincunx by Charles Palliser

222627Well, I said 2014 would be a year of Big Books and you really don’t get much bigger than this. Last year, when I bought my copy of The Luminariesa colleague said to me “you know, if you really want to read a proper faux Victorian novel, you should check out The Quincunx”. As I pondered whether something could be proper and faux at the same time, I wandered into my nearest bookshop and picked up a copy. It is a HUGE book in every sense of the word. It’s a trade cloth sized paperback, and it weighs in at 1191 pages of fairly small type. The story is both sprawling and intimate (focussing on the possible inheritance of one person, but said inheritance is tied into decades of family history and encompasses five different families). As reviews stated at the time, Palliser pretty much out-Dickens Dickens.

Quincunx is not, as you might expect, a Chaucerian bit of slang for vagina, but the five point design you see on the face of dice. And fives are what this novel is all about. It’s divided into five sections, each section into five books and each book into five chapters. We have a first person narrator, John Mellamphy, and we have an omniscient narrator who pops up at the beginning of each section to drip feed us information. Master Mellamphy begins to believe that he is actually John Huffam and the rightful heir to the Huffam estate. His mother possesses a codicil to a will that would prove as much, but there are other families who would stop at nothing to ensure the codicil never sees the light of day.

As John sets out to discover the truth about his heritage, his journey takes him far and wide throughout England and encounters pretty much every level of society. For quite a while, his mother is with him and her naïveté might just drive you out of your mind. She’s so staggeringly that you feel for John when he yells at her for being so trusting of complete strangers and the like. When John leaves her behind, the story really does kick up a gear. Misery upon misery is piled upon our possible Huffam until you can’t quite believe he isn’t crushed by the sheer weight of them.

Just when you think that you can’t take anymore gloriously detailed glumness, the events of the novel become so intense and exciting that if you’ve been enjoying it up to that point, then strap in, because you won’t be putting the novel down until you get to the end. Honestly, the last 300 pages will have your pulse racing and I pretty much couldn’t read it fast enough. The ending deviates from the traditional norm Palliser is emulating, in that it is most definitely ambiguous. I can’t decide whether to be annoyed by this or not. I really wanted a definitive happy ending for John Huffam as he really suffers for his art over the course of 1150 pages and at least a decade (Palliser never gives you his age or a true idea of the span of the novel). But we don’t get a definitive unhappy ending either. There are definitely more elements of misery than joy in the final chapters, but there’s enough of a glimmer that I want to believe it wasn’t all for nought. Whatever the conclusion I draw, I can say this for sure. Reading this book was most definitely NOT for nought. An absolutely staggering piece of fiction. For those of you who love classic novels and bemoan the fact they don’t make them like they used to, well, THEY DO.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 31: The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes

21252457A debut novel and one picked as an Amazon Rising Star this year, Haynes has written something that I feel can’t help but draw comparisons to The Secret History. Our narrator, Alex Morris, has lost her fiancé in horrific circumstances and to help recover, leaves her London life behind, moves to Edinburgh and takes a job at a Pupil Referral Unit, a unit run by one of her best friends from her University days. One particular class of five awkward, wayward, unpleasant and yes violent teens gets under her skin. They’re known as a problem class and they intimidate every other teacher in the unit. Alex is determined to reach out to them and to help them so uses dramatherapy techniques with Greek Tragedies to try and turn them into normal functioning adults. That this Does Not Go Well is only a surprise, I expect, to Alex. A new tragedy is unfolding in front of her, but she is still too shell shocked by the events in London to see it.

Awkward teenagers. Greek Tragedies. Fucked up situations. You can see why the comparisons to Donna Tartt’s debut would be made, no? But this is a much more straightforward affair. It’s very well written, Haynes clearly knows her Greek drama (an afterword about this will really leave you in no doubt) and she has a way with characters too. Alex is deeply flawed, which makes fully sympathising with her situation very difficult. Which is a great element to the book. If she had been painted as a holier than thou do-gooder, you wouldn’t believe in or care about her. Alex makes bad decisions for good reasons and is a bit of a mess, which makes her eminently relatable. And there is a running joke over how perfect her solicitor is that made me laugh more than once.

Not all of the five teens which make up the core group Alex teaches come off quite so well. It took a while before I could differentiate between two of the three girls and remember their names. Also, Haynes plays very coy with revealing exactly what has happened, even though it’s told in flashback. Which is fine, except it’s obvious what’s happened from about halfway through due to use of diary excerpts throughout the book, so the coyness is unnecessary and becomes slightly irksome. That doesn’t mean that watching it all play out is boring, far from it. It still manages to be a page turner, even when you know what’s coming, and that’s no mean feat, really.

Ultimately, this is definitely worth a read and Natalie Haynes is an author to watch.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 29: In The House Upon The Dirt Between The Lake and The Woods by Matt Bell

16041846Ah this book. Last year, it was everywhere I turned. It was on list after list after list of recommendations, of mid year and year end round ups. It was hotly anticipated and has been highly lauded. So even though it wasn’t really something I would normally go after, I thought I would see what all the fuss was about. And as unwieldy as it is, I do really like the title. It’s not yet published in the UK, so I imported it via a friend visiting from the USA. It tells the story of a married couple who move to the titular house to start a family. But this is a fairy tale world, where the wife can sing things into existence and the husband can commune with the wildlife and as every pregnancy fails, events become ever darker and more sinister.

Things do get off to a promising start. Our narrator, the husband (Bell doesn’t give them anything as straightforward as names), takes one of the failed foetuses into himself, calls it a fingerling, and begins to listen as it talks to him. It’s super creepy and kind of brilliant and the rage that consumes him as they watch his wife take ever more desperate measures to pretend her last pregnancy has not failed is quite chilling. But things begin to go downhill fast. Bell is making his debut as a novelist, and the idea isn’t enough to be spun out to a full length novel at just over 300 pages. It’s a short story, stretched far beyond its scope for narrative and Bell’s use of language. What starts out as equal parts florid, lyrical and spiky soon becomes tiresome, repetitive and dull. I really wanted to like it. And for about 50 pages, I did enjoy it.

Problem is, I then had another 250 pages to wade through, with nameless characters I’m not overly invested in. The wife is barely there, and once you get past the lengths she’s gone to for a child, there’s not really anything more there to hold on to. Instead we have seemingly endless pages of the husband fishing in the lake and trapping animals in the dirt.  And I hope you like the words “house”, “dirt”, “lake” and “woods”, because you will read them approximately eleventy billion times before you get to the end of this not really that long but still far too long book.

Ultimately, if you read this sentence: “The squid was a hunter and a trapper too, and I was the squid and the squid was me, and we shot through the ink toward the bear, searching for that thin breadth of bone-spaced chance, and as we jetted through that horror I heard the fingerling’s voice call out to me, call out in many voices for me to save him, to take him back in, begging as only a child can beg” and you think “holy fuck that’s amazing” then this is the book for you and I hope you enjoy it much more than I did. If you rolled your eyes and thought “oh for heavens sakes” then don’t even pick it up. I prefer books with characters and a narrative, something I can get interested in and care about. If I am left in awe of the wordsmithery along the way, bonus. If I’m not gripped and I call think is “STOP SAYING THE WORDS ‘HOUSE’ AND ‘LAKE'” then nobody is having any fun. Ah well!

Cannonball Read 6, Book 26: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

14781675This book seems to be everywhere at the moment. It has been prominently displayed in bookstores since its hardback publication last year and the paperback just came out, causing a fresh wave of publicity. There are posters everywhere I turn, all of them emblazoned with pull quotes from glowing reviews about how exciting, pulse racing, daring, smart and thrilling it is. You’ll see there’s a sticker on the cover there that denotes it is “the only thriller you need to read this year”. Having now finished it, I can only scratch my head and quote Tori Amos to ask “baby, what have you been smoking?”

The back cover does, I’ll admit, hook you in. “A young woman murdered in a run-down Manhattan hotel. A father publicly beheaded in the blistering sun of Saudi Arabia. A man’s eyes stolen from his living body as he leaves a secret Syrian research laboratory. Smouldering remains on a mountainside in the Hindu Kush. A plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity. One thread binds them all, one man to take the journey. Pilgrim.” But Hayes, an ex-screenwriter making his debut as a novelist, puts his foot wrong from the very beginning. Some of the plot points he asks to swallow are served up in indigestible chunks. I could not ever believe an ex-agent from a top secret agency only ever known as The Division would write a book detailing forensic criminal investigation and how you would commit a perfect murder, let alone that anyone would ever allow it to be published, for starters. But that book was used to plan the hotel murder which opens the book, and it’s the reason our Pilgrim narrator is there and that the whole book kicks off at all. So, whatever.

Another issue I had with the book is how much Hayes loves a back story. After a couple of chapters in the hotel dealing with the murder, he then delves into the backstory of Pilgrim, his NYPD buddy who also read the book and consults him from time to time and into the history of the man plotting to commit the appalling crime, only known as Saracen. We don’t return to the story and start to gather any kind of momentum for 150 pages. And those 150 pages could easily have been 30. And even better, there’s five “missing years” in Saracen’s backstory, one that otherwise has a forensic level of mind-numbing detail. Those years are missing purely because if they weren’t, something that takes Pilgrim A REALLY LONG TIME to figure out would have been immediately obvious.

Once Saracen’s plot becomes known to Pilgrim (spoiler alert: it’s smallpox. Saracen managed to steal the vaccine, using someone else’s eyes, and then synthesise the virus in his garage, having taught himself how from the internet. I shit you not.) the race to find Saracen takes him to Turkey, where we have a shitload more backstory. Parachuted in under the cover story of investigating the death of an American billionaire, Pilgrim actually has to investigate that and the Saracen plot as well, to maintain cover. While delving into the death, desperation forces his hand and there’s a plot point involving fireworks and giant mirrors that even Dan Brown would have raised an eyebrow at and said “bitch, please”. It also doesn’t stack up with someone who repeatedly says “had I been paying more attention at the time, I would have noticed…” or something along those lines. I got to the point where every time he said it, it caused an eye roll and an exclamation of “you’re supposed to be the best secret agent alive!”

Repetition is another of Hayes’s problems. When endlessly discussing the smallpox scenario, I lost count of how many times I read the words “crash through the vaccine”. The writing generally isn’t anywhere near as good as it thinks it is. There are flashbacks which last over several chapters and are purely there to introduce one character and one tiny plot point. And those flashbacks are clumsily constructed, to say the least. Hayes also talks down to his audience, pausing to explain what a tagine is, which just made me yell “I KNOW WHAT A FUCKING TAGINE IS”. Having patronised us, he then talks about craigslist as if it’s actually a list belonging to a guy named Craig and worst of all, doesn’t know what a zombie is. When detailing how Saracen will unleash the smallpox he notes that after exposure, the exposed can then “accurately be described as zombies – one of the walking dead.” Anyone who’s ever seen a zombie film will be happy to tell you that zombies are actually undead and unless the smallpox has killed you and then you’ve come back to life with a desire to eat brains, you’re not a zombie.

So there we are. A fast paced thriller that is neither fast paced nor especially thrilling. Ambitiously constructed, sure, but Hayes’s reach far exceeds his grasp and what could have been an absolute slam dunk is instead by turns frustrating, dull and laughable.

 

Cannonball Read 6, Book 24: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

18481678How do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?

I mentioned in an earlier review that I do love me an unconventional detective and thus I was really looking forward to reading this book. And, having been lucky enough to score and advance copy, I’ve just finished it and it didn’t disappoint. Maud is old. Maud is forgetful. She makes cups of tea and doesn’t drink them, makes toast and sets fire to the kitchen. But Maud is sure of one thing. Her best friend, Elizabeth, is missing. And Maud has to find her.

Emma Healey is making her debut with this unusual novel and she is, not to put too fine a point on it, disgustingly young. It’s likely there will be brickbats thrown her way just for that, but the chances are increased by the fact she’s written a novel in the first person and the narrator is over eighty years old. To me, it just made the level of insight Healey writes with all the more incredible. Maud is a living, breathing, fully three dimensional creation. As her grip on day to day life diminishes and her dogged monomaniacal quest to find Elizabeth strengthens, Maud will grip your mind and break your heart with every page turn.

But even the most skilled of authors would struggle to fill a book running to almost 300 pages with one dotty old woman who regularly forgets what she’s doing. As is true of most Alzheimer’s sufferers, while Maud has trouble remembering things that happened a few minutes before, the events of fifty years ago are recalled with piercing clarity and in minute detail. And Maud’s past harbours a dark secret, another mystery she couldn’t solve, even when she was in full control of her faculties. A few years after the end of World War II, Maud’s sister Sukey disappeared. Suspicion fell on her wayward husband, but nothing was ever proved and Sukey was never seen again.

Haunted by her past, Maud is determined to find Elizabeth but finds herself thwarted at pretty much every turn by her own failing brain power as well by Elizabeth’s son, who Maud is convinced is behind his mother’s disappearance. A word of advice for people thinking of reading this book: start it when you have a full day or two free so you can switch your phone off and lose yourself in the gorgeously written journey Maud goes on. Once you start, you won’t want to put this down until you reach the final page. Another word of advice though. If you have even the tiniest fear of growing older, then I would approach this with extreme caution. Healey nails Maud’s state of mind so accurately that if you share any of her concerns around ageing, then you might have a very different experience reading this than I did.

I’m not overly sure I agree with the review featured on the book jacket describing it as a psychological thriller though. It is not so much a “whodunnit” as it is a “has anyone actually done something?” and while I’d be tempted to deduct some points for the “eureka” moment towards the end, the whole book is so intricate, intelligent and delightful, it would just be mean of me. It is a richly satisfying read and despite the premise, one that will appeal to a far wider audience than the Cosy Crime demographic it is aiming for. Read it.

And one last note, one that you’ll need to remember is coming from a Kindle evangelist. Do not read this one in e-book format. Viking have done an absolutely bang up job with the book, it looks and feels gorgeous. More than one person I showed it to commented that it looked like I was reading an old fashioned Agatha Christie. I mean, look. It’s just perfect:

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Cannonball Read 6, Book 23: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

17684326Pen names are funny things aren’t they? It’s pretty impossible for the real author behind them to stay hidden for long. Either the books become so successful that the lack of personal appearances becomes telling, or someone in the know leaks the story just because they can. Sometimes, authors have pen names so they can publish books outside their own genre with impunity (Barbara Vine and Richard Bachman spring to mind here) and it’s no secret who the real author behind it is. It is a proper shame that Galbraith’s true identity as J.K. Rowling was leaked by some smug moron on social media so very quickly, as it would have been fascinating to see if The Cuckoo’s Calling could have become a bestseller in its own right. It certainly had the reviews to make it so, and not just from critics, but from other authors too, none of whom were aware Galbraith was a pseudonym.

None of that hoopla can take away from this that it’s a cracking read with a magnificent antihero creation at its centre. Improbable name aside, Cormoran Strike is brilliant. After losing a leg to a landmine in Afghanistan, he has been working as a private investigator ever since. When we meet him, he is at a particularly low ebb. Sleeping in his office after breaking up with his girlfriend, down to one client and fast heading towards bankruptcy, Strike is not so much about to throw in the towel, but accept the inevitability of it being thrown in whether he likes it or not. Then, John Bristow comes to see him. His adopted sister, the supermodel Lula Landry, committed suicide by jumping off her penthouse balcony a few months ago, but Bristow thinks someone killed her and wants Strike to find out who. Strike thinks he’s on a hiding to nothing, but Bristow tells him money is no object, so Strike agrees to look into it. And finds that Bristow may have a point.

Say what you like about Rowling, she’s a damn good story teller. And she knows how to create three dimensional characters too. Cuckoo’s Calling is stuffed to the gills with people who, in less talented hands, would undoubtedly be shrieking caricatures. Rowling isn’t afraid to flesh them out, make us believe in and care about them. And the mystery of who killed Lula and why is sufficiently twisted to justify the book’s length (over 500 pages in paperback). But when Strike finally gets to the bottom of it and lays it all out for the reader, it is breathtaking in its audacious simplicity. It takes a writer of considerable daring to pull off what she does with this denouement, and while it may require a couple of forgiving moments with some of the leaps in logic, I was still absolutely engrossed and impressed.

Pleasingly, Rowling hasn’t allowed her cover being blown to give up on her alter ego or her antihero. A second Strike novel is coming out any moment now. I can’t wait to read it and I hope there are many more to come.

Cannonball Read 6, Book 20: The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

13064606This book was on many Best lists in the year it was published. Published two years after Room, it would be tough not to say Donoghue’s utterly excellent novel didn’t influence McCleen, as here we are with another narrator who also happens to be a damaged child with no concept of the real world she happens to live in. There though, all comparisons end. Judith’s mother died shortly after giving birth to her and she has been raised by her father alone. As devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, Judith and her father spend their weekends knocking on doors and telling people to prepare for the End  of the World. What free time she has, Judith spends building a model of the titular Land, where the believers end up after Armageddon. Badly bullied at school, Judith spends one weekend praying she can stay off school on Monday. She makes it snow in her model Land. On the Monday morning, it’s snowed so much overnight that schools are closed. Judith believes she’s made a miracle happen. And from there, things only get worse.

Anyone who was ever bullied at school for being different (I think that’s pretty much everyone, no?), will find something to identify with in poor innocent Judith. It also makes it quite a tough read in places. Judith is clearly damaged by her upbringing (her father made no secret of holding her responsible for her mother’s death, for example) and so indoctrinated to her religion that she very much cannot see the wood for the trees and you desperately want her to. McCleen writes in a clipped, straightforward, no-nonsense style, in short chapters, which makes this a very quick read. But, as I said earlier, not an easy one.

As Judith’s quest for miracles continues, her father’s life starts to come off the rails. They’re both persecuted by bullies, Judith at school, her father at work. They both start to become mentally affected by the persecution, with Judith believing she’s having conversations with God, as well as being guided by him in her creation of miracles. The way Judith relates all the events though, she can’t see how wrong everything is going, and there’s something horribly unsettling in how you observe these two lives coming apart at the seams in such a detached style. Eventually, everything in her life has broken apart so much that Judith finally sees the wood among the trees and thinks there’s only one way she can fix things.

And believe me when I tell you, you will fervently be wishing there’s a happy ending waiting for Judith and her poor damaged father at the end of this brief, brilliant novel. McCleen breaks your heart for them over and over again throughout the book and makes you root for them as much as she makes you want to smack them upside the head on occasion (her father  more than Judith on that score). Whether or not they get the happy ending is something you’ll need to read the book to find out. Although, when you’ve finished, you may still not be too sure about just how happy an ending it really is.