Published by Harper Collins Publishers Australia
Published on the 13th June 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Harper Collins Publishers Australia, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Augusta Hope has always loved words, since she was first able to speak them or read them. She loves words like other people love sweets. At six she was reading the dictionary, memorising all of the different words and their meanings. When she’s eight, she spins the globe in the library and picks her favourite country – Burundi. Augusta has always felt like she never quite fit in. Her twin sister, Julia, and her are raised in a small town called Hedley Green, on Willow Court. When the other people in the court were shying away from Graham Cook because of his disability, Augusta was doing all she could to make him feel like he had a friend and wasn’t alone. While Julia was getting a boyfriend and starting her journey into the land of love, Augusta was dreaming of a place that she could fit in. They’ve always been inseparable, until tragedy strikes, then Augusta is left trying to find her ‘home’ which is not a place, but a person. What if that person is half a world away?
This book made me feel ALL OF THE THINGS!! At first, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that I was going to like it. It’s written in such a way that I’m just not used to. The story starts when the twins, Julia who was born in July, and Augusta who was born in August, first come into the world. The story quickly progresses through the earlier years as Augusta chronicles how she was different to everyone else in her court. Memorising the dictionary at six, picking a country in Africa that she’d never heard of before, as her favourite when she was eight. The memorising of facts and information that her mother and father never wanted to know. Reading poems that made them cringe or made Julia ask her to stop. She was always searching from a very young age, and we can see this right off the bat.
The POV switches between Augusta in England, to Parfait in Africa, and back again. Alternating between each other as their stories seem to run parallel. We get a glimpse at the tragedy and heartbreak that people in Africa experience every day, but we never hear about. Contrasted with the problems and issues that a comfortable girl who lives in England experiences. Neither issues that are raised outshine the other. It’s a great illustration that, everyone is going through something, yes one may be more horrific than the other, but to the person who is experiencing the pain, heartache, loss, grief, joy, any number of emotions, the ‘something’ is massive to them. There’s never a competition about who has the worst problems or is going through the worst time, everyone’s issues are relevant, regardless of their complexity. This book is a great illustration of that, and I loved that about it.
The story progresses through the lives of Parfait and Augusta, the loss, grief, joy, excitement, terror – all the ups and downs, as they grow up, both dreaming of something more. For Augusta it’s a place where she fits in, for Parfait it’s a place where he is safe. The writing was an odd one for me, there wasn’t so much a flow to it, as a staccato beat that told the story in a very monotonous way, however it was anything but boring. The voice used to narrate this story wouldn’t have worked if it had been written any other way. The staccato beat of the sentences and paragraphs wound together to make such beautiful prose that it just draws you in and holds onto you so you don’t want to stop. I powered through this book in a day and a bit because I found myself being drawn into the story so much, that I literally did not want to put it down. It’s funny, I don’t recall the exact moment that I became enthralled with it, it was a gradual progression that all of a sudden, I was in love with this story and nothing was going to change that. The book deals with all the ups and downs in life. It deals with mental health, coming of age, growing up, individuality, finding one’s self, loss, grief, healing and love.
This book was such a wonderful illustration of serendipity where everything comes together in the end and we see all the connections that happened throughout. I don’t want to go into too much detail because I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that this book made me sad, it made me happy, it made me laugh and it damn near made me cry (the only reason I didn’t was because I held it back as I was sitting at the dinner table with the fam). It made me go through a kaleidoscope of emotions, and not because it was extravagant, but because it just is. This book is just life. There’s no major frills or extravagance to it, it. just. is. If something’s meant to be it will be, I’ve always been a firm believer in that, and this book attests to it. Such a beautiful story that I would happily read again.