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Summary

The astonishing new novel from Carnegie Medal, CliPPA Poetry Award, YA Book Prize and CBI Book of the Year Award winning author Sarah Crossan. 

Allison is in danger at home. Her stepmother has run away and her father is getting worse. So she runs away too and with no where to live finds herself hiding out, miles from home, in an elderly woman’s shed. But this woman, Marla, has dementia and doesn’t recognise her as Allison, believing she is an old friend from her past called Toffee. 

So this is who Allison becomes, morphing into a person Marla usually knows and trusts but sometimes fears and fights. Eventually Allison’s stepmother shows up, armed with a new baby girl, a new sibling. Marla then finds herself, once lonely and vulnerable, the saviour to three desperate women. But Marla’s son is frustrated with his mother, and can be angry and violent. Is there a way for this new family to stay together? 

From one-time winner and two-time Carnegie Medal short-listed author Sarah Crossan, this new novel is poignant, stirring and huge-hearted.

©2019 Sarah Crossan (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another heart-rending poetic novel from Crossan

Each lyrical piece of writing from Crossan manages to be narrative and poetry. A complete story broken down into chapters that each become a poem in their own right. I don't know how she does it. While Toffee tells a truly distressing tale of abuse, it never quite hit my heart the way 'One' or 'The Weight of Water' did. Allison is our focus. Physically and psychologically abused at home for many years, her father's longest-term partner (and Allison's ally) gone, she also leaves. But the shed she hides in belongs to an old lady who sees her own old friend in the young girl, and the dementia-ridden woman and Allison form an unlikely alliance. We watch Marla's dementia turn Allison from a friend called Toffee into someone she battles, the effects of her illness so painful, including for Marla's own son. The conflict between the women and their torturers, and the relationships between the women, are the two prongs of this story. I found the chapters of Allison and her father quite frightening, the girl's perspective somehow detached but still brutal in their depiction of mistreatment and violence. You know exactly what is happening. I wanted to know more about her father, delve into his psyche. It's a structure that melds itself well to the audio format, with short chapters and the verse structure in one voice a pattern that flows easily to the ear. The actor narrating has a young and vulnerable voice that suits the protagonist. A very short book, combining two emotive and highly relevant subjects to young people and their families today. With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

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Not the best

Bit meh really. I usually find SC's books fabulously unputdownable, but this one was just lacking in something. I didn't find the narrator much cop, so maybe it was just that.