Lizzy lives with her father, Julian, and her brother, Ig, in North London. Two years ago her mother died, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things: for Margaret was lively, beautiful, fun, loving; she kept the family together. So Lizzy thinks. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.
What I Thought:
For such a brief book (only 217 pages in the ARC) Look at Me certainly punched above its weight. I was initially interested in the book purely based on the beautiful cover, which I’m pleased to say has made it over on to the release edition, and from there, the book itself only got better and better.
I am an avid watcher of Long Lost Family, the ITV show that aims (in most cases) to reunite mothers and children who have been on both sides of adoption but, although this show gives a brief follow-up, there’s no indication of how a relationship has progressed. Look at Me shows one potential outcome of a meeting between an adopted child and their ‘natural’ family – but one that I hope is not repeated too often!
The book has an interesting ‘nature vs nurture’ aspect to it. Lizzy and Ig have grown up with their manchild father and a mother who suffered from depression while Eunice has grown up with staid and strict adoptive parents, which makes you wonder if she might have been different had she been kept by her mother, with some kind of contact with her natural father. As it is, Eunice is a deliciously vicious and sneaky ‘villain’, and it is interesting to see that her ultimate revenge on her natural family actually has the opposite effect to the one she intended.
Look at Me is an excellent look at the grief of a family over losing their lynchpin, and the desperate acts that cause havoc. You get a real sense, almost immediately, that Lizzy knows she has made a huge mistake, but as she and her brother don’t seem to have been raised as pratical children, there’s a sad sense of helplessness about what she should do next.
The writing is strong and spare, and not reliant on cliche to get to the heart of this very unconventional family. Look at Me is an excellent use of your time.
To find out more about Sarah Duguid, catch up with her on Twitter.
Look at Me is published this month, I received an ARC copy from Georgina Moore – with many thanks!
As a special treat, lovely people, I am also giving away my ARC of Look at Me, so you too can share. Simply fill out the widget below to enter.