The main character Ginny is 15 and lives in a small seaside village in North Wales with her father. Her Haitian mother is dead, and despite her fathers many ‘breakfast ladies’ (women who appeared at breakfast, after spending the night). None of them stick around long enough to become family.
Ginny is a talented artist and excellent at French, which helps her feel closer to her Mother. She finds Welsh hard and as the only black girl in her school, often feels like an outsider. Her best friend Rhiannon is glamorous and funny and they, like all 15 year olds, are each others secret keepers. So when things start to fall apart Rhiannon is the first person she turns to.
The book interweaves the lives of Ginny and her family with those in the village, exploring themes of identity, family and how our upbringing can shape us as adults.
You can read an excerpt here on his website.
What did I think?
Like all of Pullman’s books the characters are exceptionally well written, not only do they feel realistic, they feel known to us, particularly as the story develops. There are twists and turns aplenty throughout the plot, which help deepen our understanding of how Ginny and her father’s lives have turned out they way they have.
Pullman perfectly captures what it is to be a teenager, the thoughts, desires, intense secrets and longings and I wish more writers wrote their characters like this.
I would highly recommend this book, and am so glad I found it. I’m going to donate it to our library at work and I’m sure whoever reads it next will love it.