I have read books by Beth Moran before, and have enjoyed them, and so it was with great anticipation that I opened this latest book to start reading it.
I empathised with the main character Ollie, from the start; it must be tricky getting to a certain age, when everyone else seems to be paired off, and living at home probably doesn’t help! Certainly her Mother’s devious, controlling ways don’t help. Thank goodness Ollie was surrounded by a group of strong women in her life. Karina was a shining star, and as far as characters go I liked her hugely. In fact I liked all of Ollie’s friends – it was just such a shame about her Mother and her ways!
It was really time for Ollie to make some new friends too, once she moved into her own house, and Joan, the 11 year old neighbour whom she took under her wing was a start, although I felt sad that Joan’s own Mother automatically presumed the worst of her, regardless. Sam was a welcome addition to the New Friends Club and I couldn’t help but wonder about his marital status, hoping that above all, he was single! This proved to be the case in an excruciating chapter involving Ollie, Sam and his Sister and a posh restaurant! The sight of Sam in his lawyer outfit, is surely enough to make the sternest hearts flutter!
I felt sad that Ollie had been so smothered by her Mother, that her bucket list of items included things that I know I take for granted, such as eating what I want, when I want, and even just being able to spend quiet time in my own company! When it comes to Ollie’s Mother, two words come to mind ’hard’ and ’work’. She clearly has mental health issues, but regardless, I felt sad at the way she treated Ollie.
This book is fill of humorous moments, to outweigh the more serious issues, for example when Nesbit the stray dog Joan found, broke into Sam’s house and stole the chicken he had cooked for a family dinner. Oops! Another humorous moment of note proved to involve Jaxx and his nipples in the library, after he took control of the overflowing coffee incident. Another amusing moment was the arrival of the ‘K’ Triplets in their extremely ’short shorts’ outfits. The funniest moment though, was surely when Sam came across Ollie while she was wild camping. ’Excruciating Moments 101!’
On a personal note, I loved the concept of ’nomato’ sauce. The mere name reminded me oh so fondly of when my Son was 3 years old, over 20 years ago. At nursery, he had just been moved up to the ’Dolphin’ class from the ’Penguin’ class, having turned 3. He came home one day in the run up to Christmas, sobbing; absolutely breaking his heart. I tried to find out what on earth was wrong, only to make out between sobs ’I want to be a ’Noflake’! It transpired that whilst the ’Penguins’ were going to be snow flakes in the upcoming nativity play, the ’Dolphins’ were all going to be bells. Well, all turned out well in the end. I spoke to the staff and arranged for My Son to be a ‘Noflake’ with his old ’Penguin’ pals. Truth be told, I was also relieved, in that the only costume I had to provide was a white t shirt and tights; even having an older Daughter, yellow tights were not that easy to come by 20 years ago! Anyway, I am so sorry for the diversion, to explain the unique circumstances whereby every time I read the word ’nomato’, I see the word ‘Noflake ’. Hearfelt thanks, Beth Moran, for invoking such a truly special memory for me!
‘Ebenezer’ another new neighbour for Ollie added a bit of intrigue to the book with his byzantine mixture of sarcastic notes, interspersed with random acts of kindness, such as fencing in the shared garden. At the other end of the spectrum, Irene the library manager was a tyrant, best avoided at all costs, although I am convinced that there were occasions where she thawed to the most minute extent!
This book provides a spectacular lesson in people not always being what they appear to be, and situations not necessarily being what they seem. We all have the capacity to change – for the better and Ollie seized that opportunity for herself.
The mixture of humorous issues and those more serious matters such as domestic abuse and other social care concerns, completely drew me into this book and I started to find it increasingly difficult to put down; indeed I made the rookie mistake of becoming so engrossed in these hallowed pages, that I ended up staying up all night reading, in order to finish the story.
To read this book for yourself, follow this link. Purchase link:https://amzn.to/3DunLYt