Home - by Amanda Berriman
How fabulous it is to be the penultimate blogger on this blog tour, sharing my thoughts about the awesome new book by Amanda Berriman - entitled Home.
Published on 8th February it's available now.
Home is where the heart is and in this book the heart belongs to Jesika, who at 4 and ½ has a warm heart as well as a lively and enquiring mind.
Home will inevitably draw comparisons to Room by Emma Donoghue both books being narrated in the unique cadences of a very young child. In this case the narrators voice is that of Jesika who lives with her Mum and baby brother Toby in an apartment where the landlord is a nasty angry man who shouts a lot and comes demanding money.
Jesika is a real sweetheart and I connected with her character easily and smoothly. Throughout my time immersed in this book I was 4 and a half and felt everything this little girl felt. I saw the world through her eyes and lived her life. She has left a little bit of herself in my soul.
Jesika loves Home even though it's just a shabby old flat with loads of idiosyncrasies, even though when her Mum bathes her she knows the water mustn’t be any higher than the crack in the bath. She has to keep away from the broken window and not stare at the neighbours too much or ever, ever touch the rubbish that accumulates in the communal areas. Oh and Mum keeps telling her not to touch the moles on the wallpaper, though she knows the moles are just black stuff she can draw in. The sanctity of Home is under threat from the nasty landlord and Mum is doing everything she can to keep it safe.
Jesika’s Dad is no longer around, he disappeared back to Poland and Jesika no longer sees Bab-bab which makes her very sad.
She loves going to pre-school even though she hasn’t yet got a special friend there. Her Mum has lots of friends, or so it seems to Jesika and she loves to go and visit them all, there are Nandini and Emma the ladies in the laundrette, Abe who runs the greengrocers, even the next door neighbour with the teeth, but Mum insists they aren’t real friends, just people who feel sorry for her and she hates accepting, help seeing it as a sign of weakness.
The whole book is peopled with wonderful individuals each of whose lives a book could have been written.
When Toby’s cough won’t get better we meet Dolphin, Duncan and Para-Ted and the violent lady (who really isn’t violent at all she just wears a purple dress) and Jesikas memories of her beloved Bab-bab who she can never see any more get muddled with memories of an ambulance.
Confused? You won’t be, you really won’t, everything in this book slots neatly into place and this story is perfectly seamless and beautifully constructed and a really wonderful reading experience.
One day though, Jesika makes a real friend at pre-school. Paige is a little girl who always sits alone and Jesika with her caring nature realises the other girl is nervous and befriends her. Paige lives in a big house with a beautiful princess bedroom and loads of toys, with her Mum Tina and Uncle Ryan and at last it would seem that Mum is making some real friends as well as Jesika’s new bff.
As the 2 girls become pals, Paige teaches Jesika some new games Jesika doesn’t quite understand and she also learns about secrets. Everything is confusing to a 4 year old, so she can’t work out when things are secret and when you can shout about them. Everything is contradictory and Jesika just wants to always do her best. Sometimes she gets scared and when she gets really scared she bites people even though she knows it’s very wrong to bite.
The author clearly knows little children really well. For the time I read this book I was Jesika, I was 4 ½ years old and I understood her every thought and reasoning and it really brought back the massive frustrations of being small and being constantly told what to do but not always why.
Breathtaking in it’s simplicity and heartbreaking in the content, Home is a book for anyone who has ever been 4 and a half! It's a book about friendship and family and secrets.
It will make you think, it will make you laugh and it will make you cry, (well, if you're human that is).
It sounds cute but don't dismiss it for that reason, Oh no, it’s not all sweetness and light, there are some very unpleasant subjects tackled, and nasty things happen, which when viewed from a childs point of view are even more distressing.
But there is enough brilliant levity to make it a utterly joyful read, which I can recommend unreservedly and which will stay with me for a long time.
When you read Home, give Jesika a hug from me while you live in her world for a while.
Jesika is four and a half.
She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn't draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.
She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.