Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Review: The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
I mentioned in an earlier post that this intriguing lack of information was one of the reasons I bought this book. Now having read The Other Hand I feel that this marketing approach was the one thing that did spoil the story because I began reading with huge expectations that were never met. I really enjoyed the first half of the book but then I kept waiting for the big something that would make it 'truly special' and it didn't happen. And I don't think I'm spoiling it for anyone else by giving a summary.
It's the story of two women whose lives come together one day on a beach in Nigeria. Sarah is an Englishwoman on holiday with her husband in an attempt to revive their flagging relationship. Little Bee is a teenage Nigerian girl who, with her sister, is fleeing from soldiers destroying her village. What happens that day will have far-reaching consequences for all of them.
Two years later, Little Bee has sought asylum in England but leaving the Detention Centre without the proper documents finds herself in the position of being an illegal immigrant but manages to make her way to Sarah's home.
Told in alternate narratives from Sarah and Little Bee it tells of an unlikely friendship between two women suffering from tragedy and the help and support they give to each other. It's a sad tale dealing with grief, loss and betrayal , not only from the lives of Sarah and Little Bee but touching on global issues like immigration laws and the fate of those who have the misfortune to live on potential oilfields. It's saved from being depressing by the presence of Sarah's four-year-old son, Charlie (aka Batman) who provides some wonderfully humorous moments.
I liked Chris Cleave's writing style - very fluent and easy to read. A very good book and definitely worth reading but I wouldn't call it 'truly special'.
aka Little Bee
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, 2008
Read Your Own Library Challenge