Wednesday, 8 April 2015

That Girl From Nowhere - Dorothy Koomson

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‘Where are you coming from with that accent of yours?’ he asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘I’m from nowhere.’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere,’ he says.
‘Not me,’ I reply silently.

Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she'll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.
As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay...

Clemency (Smitty), was adopted not long after birth with nothing other that a box decorated with butterflies to link her to her birth mother (the tradition/tale behind this box is captivating). After a painful breakup and while still grieving the death of her adoptive father, who throughout the book we see was a wonderful, caring man, she decides to pack up her life and move to the town she was born, Brighton, with the view of carrying on her jewellery making business. Her somewhat domineering mother decides, without invitation, to move with her. Clemency is certain the agenda behind this is to make sure she does not try to trace her birth family, which she has promised her adoptive mother she will never do. But a chance meeting sees that the decision is taken from Smitty's hands, and this starts a chain of events which changes everything in Smitty's life.

True to form Koomson tackles a variety of sensitive issues with care, making them as believable as they are hard hitting. I found looking deeply into Smitty's life and feelings interesting, how she perceived herself and the world around her, the feeling of being unwanted. not finding a place she belonged. The family dynamics of both her natural and adoptive family were especially fascinating, although I'm not sure I cared for any of her family members much - especially the deplorable cousin Nancy. So much jealousy, betrayal and deception goes on behind closed doors.

As always Koomson has a fabulous knack of writing an engaging tale with interesting twists and natural and in parts humorous dialogue, so many times I had to remind myself I was not reading someone's memoirs. I particularly enjoyed the vivid description of Smitty's many photographs on her wall (a collection of her most important life memories), and it has inspired me to get a 'real' camera to take photos over the summer and be able to have them in my hands instantly. 

Fans of Dorothy Koomson will devour this and it will make fans of new readers.

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