“This novel was attracting attention even before it came out – it won the Mail on Sunday novel prize for an extract published last year. Tender and subtle, it explores difficult issues in deceptively easy prose. It’s the early 1980s and Jake is 13; his parents have separated, his mother, Mary, is destroying herself with alcohol and his older brother has run away. Jake is caring for his mother and protecting his little brother as best he can. On weekends, when he’s not snatching fleeting moments with his Dad, he works in the paper shop to save for the midi system of his dreams. Jake and Mary narrate in turns, the two perspectives woven deftly together. We meet Mary in her own childhood and as she’s falling in love with Jake’s father; across the decades, Ashdown tiptoes carefully through explosive family secrets. This is a wonderful debut – intelligent, understated and sensitive.”
Reviewed by Francesca Segal, alongside Beauty by Raphael Selbourne and Confessions of a Reluctant Recessionista by Amy Silver.