Allison has run from the burning, and has run so far that she’s no longer herself. She’s Toffee, and she lives with Marla. Marla isn’t herself either. Can Allison find her way back, or does she even want to?
This is the first time I have forced myself through a book of poems / short sentences. It looks like a thick, impressive book, but every page only has a couple of sentences on it. I found that while I connected with the characters, I just didn’t find it as immersive as a ‘regular’ book.
I really liked the way Allison and Marla interact. Allison’s character is so self-aware, and at the same time, so oblivious. Seeing inside her mind and having her own feelings and background exposed was really confronting and believable. I’ve never read any of Crossan’s other novels (and I probably won’t, if they are in poetry format), but I’d consider it from the strength of her characters.
There should be a trigger warning attached to this novel for domestic abuse and burn scars. I don’t think ‘mental health’ really covers dementia either. That being said, this novel is more than that. Friendship? Yes. Parenthood? Also yes. But in terms of closure and answers and completeness, it’s not satisfying. I need to know what happens to Allison’s dad and whether she survives.
I’m divided on whether this should be worth three or four stars. I feel like it was very good, because I got into the story, and I loved Allison and Marla. But then again, I felt cheated by the format and while the ending was good, it wasn’t quite enough. Read it, and let me know what you think.
Bloomsbury | 17th June 2019 | AU$14.99 | paperback