by Orla Owen.
16-year-old twins, Lara (the narrator) and Luella, live in a closed world, dominated by their controlling, widowed, mother. They go to school, come home, do their chores and homework, and go to bed. That’s it. They went to a party once (when they were eight), but someone gave them cola, and their mother didn’t like that, so… no more parties.
Shut off from the world, and bullied at school, Lara and Luella have no perspective on life, no understanding of how other families operate (they’ve never been in any house but their own), and their mother, with her gaslighting skills, reins supreme.
Then when their mother goes away overnight, and Luella crosses a line, Lara finds herself their only link with the real world. People start to notice things aren’t right. People start to worry about them, and come forward with offers of help.
This book had me hooked from the first page. The girls’ mother is so convincing, and their subjugation so understandable, and yet so pitiful, the narrative hoovered me onwards. Owen’s writing-style matches the theme perfectly, and her refusal to gloss over the grimness of the girls’ situation adds a morbid fascination.
A stunning debut novel from Orla Owen. Her second novel Pah is out in 2020, and I can’t wait to read it.
Note: I worked on this title as typesetter, and received a free copy as a result, but there was no expectation on behalf of the publisher for me to read it, let alone review it, and I have done both by choice, and with pleasure.