Published by : Century
9 April 2015
Copy : Paperback - Reviewer purchased
Can you have a future without knowing your past?
Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem moves to Brighton, where she was born, and meets someone who knows all about the butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.
As the shocking secrets about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, Clem has to decide if the cost of having contact with her first family is a price too high to pay...
The Very Pink Notebook Review
This is the second Dorothy Koomson book I have read and I was glad to find it was as beautifully written and plotted as the first. The heart of the story is about family, the one Clemency, our young protagonist, has been gifted with via adoption and the discovery of her biological one. Within this, the author looks closely at the myriad of relationships one has going on in life.
For Clemency this is the one with her adoptive family; her mother (that provided, for me, quite a source of light humour in what could have been a very intense book), the memory of the one with her beloved late adoptive father and the stressful one with her adoptive uncle, aunt and cousin who can't seem to look past the colour of her skin which has really affected Clem, because she already feels like 'the girl from nowhere'.
Then of course there is the building of a relationship with her newly discovered birth family, the parents, siblings and grand-mother and all the highs and lows it brings. Add to this a complicated love-life, including a secret marriage and you have quite an emotional web to untangle.
Of course, families are notorious for causing the most happiness, but equally can cause the most pain and Clemency soon discovers all families have secrets and her entry into her biological world soon presents her with mysteries to solve and dilemma's to challenge her, particularly as Clemency is a people-pleaser, and she slowly finds herself isolated in who she can talk to about anything which make already complex situations even more complicated.
I found this book very well written and easy to read with a host of colourful and interesting characters. I also liked the reference to Clemency's childhood, which took me back to my own with a nostalgic recall of longing for pink roller skates or the most up-to-date Girls World. I also loved the way Koomson made Clemency, almost fanatical, about photographs - proof that she was really with people and in places - proof she does exist. I thought that was very touching.
It did take a while to complete as it was quite lengthy. On occasion I felt a little too much detail was given than strictly necessary, but this would be my only mildly negative comment on the book as a whole.
As such I give this book a well rounded :