This was a tough book to review because my head and my heart clashed. Usually, it is clear to me – here are the positives, here are the negatives and this is why I did or did not enjoy it – but this book was not that simple.
There are minor spoilers ahead, but all of this is revealed quite early on in the novel so they should not ruin your reading experience.
Author: Tabitha Bird
Genre: General Fiction (with a touch of Fantasy in the form of Magical Realism)
Age Classification: Adult
Release: June 4, 2019
We have three main characters, or rather one character at three stages of her life: Super Gumboots Willa, Middle Willa and Silver Willa. This is an 8-year-old girl, 33-year-old woman and a 94-year-old lady who is having/has had a difficult life. I was impressed with how the author managed to create three unique voices for one character.
Although all three are great characters in their own way, Silver Willa and her failing memory was my favourite. I love how much she got away with all because she was an old lady. Each of them helps tell the story at their different points in life, but here is where the story becomes even more unique. These three Willa’s are connected by a magic ocean in a jar. This allowed the Willas to interact with and help each other at key points in their life.
It was realistic and descriptive. I could imagine the people and the scenes. If I closed my eyes, I could imagine I was there with the Willas. Even the fantasy element worked its way into the story in a logical and believable way. The other positive of the magical realism is that it added a light, joyous element to this very heavy book. It was a little slow to start, but it had to be to set the story up right. Considering the book objectively, this was a beautifully written story. However, I struggled to enjoy it. Here is why.
Super Gumboots Willa is being abused by her father and Middle Willa is mentally and emotionally broken. As much as I was enjoying the magical realism and found the three Willas intriguing, their hardships stirred up negative feelings from my personal experiences which made reading these aspects of the story a challenge. This is actually a mark in the positive column for the book as it proves just how real, raw and emotional the novel is. However, for people who have experienced or continue to experience abuse and depression, this can be quite confronting.
As difficult as it was for me to read for the reasons mentioned above, objectively this book deserves a higher star rating than my personal enjoyment would award.
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆
It is a really good book that deserves to be read. Bonus, it is set in Australia so Aussie readers might find some little details that will put a smile on their face.
Have you ever struggled to read a book because of some of the themes it featured?
Until next time bibliophiles!