UNBECOMING BY JENNY DOWNHAM

I wanted to give another Jenny Downham novel a go, and this chunky beast with a captivating and allusive front cover seemed to be the one chosen for the job. The blurb looked interesting with a variety of narratives. It was safe to say my interest was piqued. However, after struggling to get really stuck into the book, my interest for it started to peater away.

Katie is struggling being in love with someone who she can’t reveal. Katie’s mother is worn out, run down and tired of running away from the past. Katie’s absent grandmother arrives unexpectably, determined but suffering with Alzheimers. Whilst Katie’s takes role of her grandmother carer, all three of them learn to deal and cope with their struggles.

Hmm. That is the phrase that summed up my thoughts once I had closed the final pages of this book. It took me a while to collaborate my thoughts on it, and and they all just came out as a bit mushy. I don’t know if it was because of time it took me to read it or that there were too many conflicting narratives to get my head around. All I know is that it wasn’t bad, just not as much as my kind of book.

I think another aspect that put me off the book a bit was that it took me far too long to read. It dragged on a bit too long for my liking which kind of tainted my experience with the novel. I feel like I was gaining as much from the novel as I would have liked – I think there was too much to be a beneficial read.

Saying that, the concept of the novel was really good and one of the aspects that drew me to the novel. The stories of the three women would have been okay separately on their own as they were smartly constructed, and whilst I do appreciate the interlinking nature of them all, felt they were too much to try and include all together. Alternating narratives is one of my favourite style, however this just didn’t run as smoothly as I would have liked. I think what I felt also happened was that she tried to include too much and got a bit lost half way through. There were so many wondeful themes, there wasn’t time to explore all of them in depth, which was a shame

I honestly did like Katie’s story. It was the one that interested me the most and kept me engaged when I lost interest in other parts of the novel. I thought she was well rounded and a good lead character. Maybe it was her age or positioning but I would have loved to read a whole novel about her.

The ending was where it became interesting and the way the book closed saved it that little bit. Tying up the stories was captivating and made up for the last half of the novel. I just wish this had emanated throughout the book.

I struggled to engage or get involved for most of the story and I think that is why I struggled with the read. I really liked the idea of the book, and some aspects were done well, but there were just others that let it down. I’m glad I read it, but isn’t one I want to rave about.

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