When recently widowed Deborah Maxwell is assigned by the Scottish Refugee Council to act as mentor to Abdi Hassan, a Somali refugee, the two are drawn into an awkward friendship. They must spend a year together, meeting once a month in different parts of Glasgow. As recently-widowed Deborah opens Abdi's eyes to her beloved city and its people, he teaches her about the importance of family - and of laying your ghosts to rest. All Abdi has brought with him is his four-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who lives in a silence no one can reach. Until, one day, she starts talking. And they discover why she had stopped....
As a Glaswegian I was attracted by the story of a Somalian refugee who arrives in Glasgow via the Dadaab camp in Kenya. The novel is a dual narrative told by Deborah, a troubled widow turned refugee centre volunteer and Abdi who must start a new life in a city bewilderingly at odds with his homelands.
Ruth Urquart is a stunning narrator who is able to move from refined Glaswegian to neighbourhood wifey to African refugee with authenticity and ease. This alone makes it a joy to listen to. You always know which character or character type is speaking, very rare talent I reckon.
There aren't actually as many novels as you'd think set in Glasgow and the ones that are invariably focus on the no mean city aspect. It was refreshing to read a nuanced portrayal of my hometown - the awful bits, the stereotyped bits, the social problems but also the culture, paintings and beautiful buildings, the swankier lives being lived out too.
The ending was a bit bonkers and not plausible still made me smile. Recommended
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Beautifully written, engaging and insightful. One of my very favourite reads for a long time. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend to friends and family. The characters were convincing if the story wasn't quite so much. Great book would love more like it
1 of 1 people found this review helpful