I probably wouldn’t have chosen this book myself, not for any other reason than the fact that I generally tend to read crime fiction. However from the second I received it as a present, it looked like it would appeal - sometimes you just need something light to escape from the everyday.
The story is based around a family of four main characters, though three are the main ones whose voices are heard throughout- those of a mother, and her two children, the son, 16 and almost 18, daughter. The father is briefly introduced with a few other characters who bear significance throughout, impacting on the lives of the family and a set of challenges for them all.
From the start, Mo, the mother appealed to me, being one who I believe like any mother at some time in their life, struggles with being a mother, and although as time went on, I couldn’t see myself emulating her possible route she was about to take in life, I could still understand how she felt, especially as a working mum. Perhaps her career as a psychologist makes it even more difficult to address the family issues and be happy with life with the rest of the aptly named, Battle family. Mum had me laughing though, otherwise you’d just want to sit and cry, at the scenarios the family goes through.
The children, well, what can I say? I know there are a great many demanding, self-centred teenagers out there and, having been a teacher for much of my life, I have certainly dealt with girls of this ilk, but I thank my lucky stars every day that was not my lot- certainly our two boys have none of those traits. The daughter, Dora is certainly like one of the more extreme ones I have dealt with over the years, but she certainly exists, scary as it may seem. She wades her way knee deep into every situation a teenage girl can, and then manages to dig a deeper hole for herself, with varying degrees of surviving.
Despite all the boys I have taught, along with their many idiosyncrasies, the son, Oscar, and his alter ego, to me just didn’t seem real. Parts did, but as a whole, I have never met a 16 year old like this one - perhaps that is one of the things which leads to even more of challenge for Mo.
Like any family, it has its challenges- this one weaves a series of circumstances, sometimes a bit like an unexpected point in a crime novel, which will make or break them. It is a funny, page turning novel, which I finished very quickly (always a good indicator for me who often is very slow reading) and left me wanting for more. Luckily I received two more by the same author, which I hope I’ll enjoy just as much as this.
As a footnote, yesterday was Trump’s inauguration as President. This book was published in 2010 in England. It was interesting to see reference made to Trump’s inappropriate dealings with women in this book. Sometimes it appears, things never change…..