Unbecoming - Book Review
UK PUBLISHER: David Fickling Books
Katie’s life is falling apart: her mum’s controlling, her dad’s run off, she’s in love with someone whose identity she can’t reveal and now her estranged grandmother’s turned up on the doorstep and Katie’s expected to take care of her. Soon Katie discovers she’s not the only one in the family hiding the truth. If she’s going to get her life back together, she’s going to have to expose everyone’s deepest secrets - including her own…
The were serval scenes in this story that really touched my heart. Exploring themes of sexuality, bullying, the pressure of expectation and the onset of dementia, this book follows a story that spans three generations. It is a book I won’t soon forget.
When a grandmother Katie never knew she had, suddenly comes to live with them, Katie at last feels she has found someone who understands her. But grandma Mary has dark secrets of her own, and she wants them brought into the light before her growing dementia sucks them from her memory, forever.
Following three generations of women, this is a story that reveals their struggles, triumphs and searing determination to break free from the conformity of society and make their own marks on the world. Told from the dual perspectives of seventeen-year-old Katie and her grandmother, this book was very character orientated and packed a lot between its pages.
Pressurised by her mother to be the perfect daughter, Katie is a closet lesbian - at least she was until she tried to kiss her best friend. Now ostracised from her classmates, and duty bound to her disabled younger brother, Katie feels trapped by her life. The arrival of her a long-lost-grandmother is a great comfort and distraction for her - but overall Katie came across as a very angsty and indecisive teen.
She spends a good portion of the book whining and keeping her head down. It wasn't until the end I began to see some real character development - however the ending was one of the things I loved most about this book.
Then there was grandma Mary, who was hands down my favourite character. The story explores both her wild youth and dips from past to present. The struggle she undergoes as her dementia becomes worse really broke my heart, but I loved how it allowed the author to merge reality with a touch of the otherworldly. The “conversations” Mary has with her deceased husband were the sweetest thing, and I loved how her husband played such a big role in the story despite not being alive.
Yet one of the most touching scenes in the book was when Katie discovers the post-it-notes Mary’s husband left throughout the house. Things like “If you go outside - I want to hold your hand and come with you.” And “Only one spoonful of sugar, you are sweet enough.” These little notes told me so much about their relationship and I thought it was both the saddest and most romantic thing ever.
Overall though this is really a story of self discovery. Each character learns about who they are and becomes brave enough to share their true face with the world.
My biggest gripe with this book though was that it was so long. A few times I had to put this book down for a breather - and also because things were taking a long time to happen. However I am glad I persevered with it, since it's a really emotional story that I fully enjoyed.
Talk to me - has anyone else read this book? What were your thoughts?