The absolute best thing about Kat Gordon’s debut novel is the central character, Tallulah Park, often known as Tallie. She is twenty-one and she wants to be a nurse, but hasn’t got herself sorted out yet. Tallie lives in a grotty flat by herself and works as a waitress in a cheap cafe for a boss she hates. Her Dad is a doctor and she used to study his textbook, so her medical terminology and knowledge of anatomy is actually very good. This comes in handy when she gets a call from the hospital to say her father is unconscious in hospital following a heart attack. Tallie and her Dad’s sisters, Gillian and Vivienne, keep vigil by his bedside. It turns out though, that Tallie has not spoken to her Dad for 5 years and has lost contact with virtually all of her family other than a cousin, Starr. Using flashbacks to the past, the reasons for the rift between the emotionally damaged Tallulah and her family are gradually uncovered.
All of the characters in this novel are intriguing although I found the plot slightly less so. There is a big ‘reveal’ towards the end of the book which I would have preferred to have happened sooner, especially as the reader is made aware of the situation quite early on. It would have been interesting to see how Tallie re-adjusted after the revelation about her family.
The young Tallie really resonated with me. Gordon has captured very well the confusing world in which children sometimes live, catching snatches of adult conversation, witnessing behaviour they don’t understand and being fobbed off with half-hearted explanations. This is especially obvious when Tallie is bereaved and finds herself isolated from her peers. I read in the Acknowledgements that Tallulah was ‘a lot like’ Kat Gordon and wondered if the character was semi-autobiographical. Struggling with grief, not making friends and forming a close relationship with her grandmother, Tallie certainly brought to mind a younger me!
Thanks to NetGalley for the digital review copy of this book.