1988. 12-year-old Harper Richardson’s parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents’ club. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest for life, two gerbils, and her Chambers dictionary, and the responsibility of fixing her parents’ broken hearts…
Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl tackling the business of growing up while those around her try not to fall apart.
What I Thought:
Initially, I read What a Way to Go as part of the blog tour on release – Julia Forster wrote a fantastic piece about which things from the 1980s she would like to see make a comeback. I asked her this question based on my own warm memories of all things 80s that this book triggered – the book itself can be perfectly described as warm and rammed full of references that will make children of the 1980s smile.
Harper was a wise-beyond-her-years heroine, with a touch of naivety and a Famous Five spirit. I liked her immensely, and felt quite sad that she was dealing with some dark and very grown up things, but she seemed to take on the problems of her world with broad shoulders, and she’s a character that I’d be happy to read about further.
The sections about the Lone Rangers single parents’ club were cringingly well written, and you could imagine any child – or nearly teen – being dragged to those kind of events.
As I said, the nostalgia side was vivid for me, but there is also some real commentary on the social issues of the 1980s, the fact that there was still something faintly scandalous about a divorcce being one, which are dealt with really well.
This Julia Forster’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from her.
If you would like to win a copy of What A Way To Go, I have my review copy to give away! Just leave a comment below, telling me what things from the 1980s you would like to bring back – if anything – by Thursday 12th May and I will randomly select a winner.
NB: I was given a copy of What A Way To Go by the publisher in return for an honest review.