The Glass Girl - Sandy Hogarth - compelling
The official blurb
His parting words cause sixteen year old Ruth to flee to Australia in shame and fear, telling her mother, "it's just a year Mum, then I'll be home". But even there her secret drives her to the isolation of the outback.
Seven years later the death of her mother brings Ruth home to England. Now she must confront her sister, Alexis. But there are darker secrets that threaten to tear apart the family she thought she knew and Alexis' betrayals are not over.
Sometimes you can't keep running. In a world of lies and betrayal by the people she loved, is Ruth strong enough?
It's so easy to say about books "I couldn't put it down" but that is true of this one, I became so absorbed in the writing, time just slipped away when I was reading it.
I was asked if I would read this and provide a review and I was a touch apprehensive, debut novels by self published authors can be hit and miss and I'm always wary of holding someones life's work in my hands then loathing it. Well this was a refreshing revelation, it is utterly delectable, individual and uncommonly good.
It tells the story of Ruth who spends her life running away, from commitment and relationships, following a traumatic event in her youth. She escapes the constraints of her childhood home by going to Australia, where she licks her wounds and harbours a huge secret which is about to colour her whole life. We follow her story over the years as she returns to the UK and it's fascinating to see how she develops from teenager through to adulthood.
The book is about keeping things hidden, how decisions made can create ripples which reach far into the future, it's about families and the frailties of human beings. It's chock a block with deeply flawed, very realistic characters (one in particular so hateful, I wanted to scream). Some are damaged by circumstance and one or two are just plain evil, despicable or weak. There are also a couple of likeable characters to balance things out, I was ambivalent towards Ruth, I didn't dislike her but couldn't really relate to her, but I did love Ben and Ruths loyal childhood friend Lucy.
The style of writing really impressed me, literary in qaulity and structure but not highbrow, it's essentially an intriguing family drama, with a clever little twist I didn't work out. It's also very poignant and intensely moving. I shed tears at a couple of points. It's not an uplifting kind of story but it shows how Ruth grows in strength despite setbacks. Its not all hearts and roses it tackles some unpleasant and rather dark subjects. There is a pensiveness which invades Ruth's soul and one could be forgiven for thinking she is chronically unfortunate.
If you're looking for a hearts and flowers romance forget it, however if you're seeking a gritty, authentic, exeptionally well written book do add the Glass Girl to your library.