Acquired 18 Apr 2008 – through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme (hence the longer review)

Fiona is the middle, unnoticed child in a chaotic Glaswegian working-class family, negotiating unfamiliar lifestyles and choices and a burgeoning interest in art. When tragedy strikes, who will hold the family together?

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down, staying up to read it fast and furiously late last night. From the moment we meet the bright, intelligent heroine to the scene where we say goodbye, the book is fast-paced, truthful and engaging.

Donovan’s books are always thoughtful as well as engaging, and look at different sectors of society through the eyes of working class Glaswegians. The characters are beautifully drawn, and not just the major ones – I loved Declan, seemingly so boring but actually wonderful, and the delicious, accepting, Scrabble-addicted Mrs Kaur. The contrasts between those who go away and those who stay are done well, and the book is given depth by its meditations on art and truth, when to tell and when be silent, and flashes of lyrical description among the dialect and plot.

The dialect: personally, I had no trouble with it. True, there are a few unfamiliar words, but they can be made out from the context. If you read passages aloud, you can hear the sense more easily. I love the voice of this book. It would be a boring world of books if we only read narrations that matched our own.

I will re-read this at leisure; it deserves at least one more read. Highly recommended.