At the end of the book you feel although she is indelibly shaped by her childhood, she is not defined by it.
Besides being a good read, this novel has made me re-assess present day family and community relationships and interdependence.
It’s an illuminating examination of the points at which an Eastern and a Western culture intersect, a remarkable exposure of the flaws in common stereotypes, and a convincing portrait of a young woman discovering herself against the backdrop of urban Britain.
It just filled me with joy when I came across it, it’s empowering in the way that only telling it like it really is can be.
The female characters particularly stand out as they are both very individual and don’t give in to pressure to act a certain way during a time when I think that would be particularly difficult.
This story tells how families were fragmented and how some lucky ones found each other. Although fiction, the horror of the greatest loss of civilian life, in a Scottish town, in World War II, is described, as is the warmth and resilience of the `Bankies`. The author has brought the Blitz alive through Lenny and her war experience.
I loved this book when I read it because it’s dark, but it is positive in the end, the prose is great, the language is rich and the whole tapestry of these imperfect human beings and their lives in this small and slightly weird community is very rich and satisfying.
I also enjoyed it because it’s an escape, which is sometimes what reading should be – it’s funny and gentle but very true about people.
It discusses unflinchingly themes of sexuality, gender roles, death and dysfunctional family, and all the while references Bechdel’s infectious love for literature, philosophy, and the works of great feminist and queer writers.
There is something about this poem that I find incredibly comforting. It always makes me cry, but in a good way!