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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: The Girl Who Just Appeared by Jonathan Harvey

Coronation Street writer Jonathan Harvey's first book, All She Wants, was really funny with a sharp, bitchy wit. His second book, The Confusion of Karen Carpenter, had lots of comedy but it was tinted with tragedy, too, but was also a good story. His new book, The Girl Who Just Appeared, is different again. but you couldn't call it a funny book. There is humour, but it's poignant and a bit sad in places and it's also a journey of discovery with a happy ending. All three books are sort of different, yet each tells a story of people finding out who they really are. It shows how talented Harvey is as a writer, not that I needed telling, I've long enjoyed his writing on Coronation Street.

This book begins as Holly Smith has just buried her mother and, now both of her parents are gone, she has decided to try to find out about her birth mother. She was told that she was adopted when she was a child and even then, she knew that must be the reason why she never connected with her family, though she loved them. All she knows is that she was born in Liverpool and adopted at a few months of age. She has an address of a flat where her mother lived but that's all she knows. When the flat comes up for rent, Holly decides to move to Liverpool to see what she can find out about her past. Yep, it's more coincidental than a coincidental thing but you need some sort of catalyst, don't you?

In the flat, Holly discovers a diary and some letters that belonged to a teenage boy called Darren, dated between 1981 and 1982. Darren's mother was a prostitute and he and his younger brother have had a tough life. We hear some of Darren's story, told through his diary, and it's tough to read sometimes as his life often seems hopeless. He never did well in school and his spelling and writing makes it evident why. As she reads the diary, Holly is drawn in to Darren's story and is sure he has a connection to her past, along with her landlords, Rose and Alan. Rose may know more than she's saying as well but Holly won't find out if she doesn't push a little.

It's difficult to say too much without giving away the story. I kind of guessed one of the twists but not quite in the way it ended up. This is a story about longing, needing to fit in and how Holly and Darren discover ways that they can do just that in order to be happy. I really liked the book as much as the first two. That's three for three so far. I definitely look forward to future books by Jonathan Harvey.

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