Wednesday, August 16, 2006

26a by Diana Evans

I know I know. I'm on vacation. But, sometimes when I read a good book, I just have to talk about it with someone. My book club isn't meeting again until the end of the summer and "bookstore girl", my daughter (see the sidebar for her blog) who is even more obsessive about books than I am, is away doing a publishing program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. So, I just finished a fabulous book and want to talk about it. It's called 26a and it isn't a kid’s book.

26a is the story of identical twins, Bessie and Georgina, of the loft and life they share on Waifer Avenue in London. But it is so so much more. It is also their parents story--Ida their mother, who at 15 runs away from her village in Nigeria (and an arranged marriage) to Lagos where a few years later she meets and marries Aubrey, a thirty-two year old banker who is trying to break away from his mama's boy past). They fall in love, move to London, and raise a family. While Ida retreats into herself, and the village and family she carries inside of her, Aubrey is unable to recover from his unhappy childhood and traumatizes his growing family with his Jekyl/Hyde personality. It is also the story of Bel, their first born, whose ability to see frightens her father and comforts her mother and the story of Kemy, a 'third sister' to the twins, and the least traumatized by moves between Nigeria and London. Most of all, it is the story of love and dependence and of how two can be one and how loss can be be born or how it cannot.

Evans writing style is complex and sophisticated with point of view switches that challenge and yet are integral to the story. It is poetic but not in the least flowery which I detest, nor obtuse which I find incredibly frustrating. I totally loved it and recommend it highly. I really think it would appeal to young adults as well as an older audience and can easily see why Evans won the Orange Award for New Writers for this one and why it was short-listed for the Whitbread First Novel Award. I can’t wait to read more of her work. So buy this one today folks.

1 comment:

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