A tiny bit marvellous by Dawn French, 9 of 52

It’s been a long time between reviews folks. Not that I haven’t been reading, just that life has been distracting me from writing up my reviews. It seems to be no coincidence that my lack of reviews has corresponded with a decline in the health of my father in law and my starting a new job. Unfortunately, my wonderful father in law passed away on the 30th March 2011 after a 15 month long battle with the dreaded cancer. Whilst a difficult time, requiring much of my emotional resources, I also reflect that it was a very special and important time in our lives. Families are all very different in the way they deal with the various things that life throws up at us…my family are private, self sustaining and incredibly stoic.

This book, by Dawn French, isn’t really a family like that…communciation issues abound to the point I would just get so frustrated with them. The story is split into narrative components by each main character, with the glaring omission of the father’s narrative. The family is made up of Mo (the mother), Dora (the daughter) and Oscar (the son). Each individual brings their own perspective on what is happening around and within the family at that time; with the main focus being on the relationship between mother and daughter.

Mo is a family psychologist, writing a book about families, who seems to have little capacity to deal with her own family’s issues. Her daughter Dora has dreadful low self esteem, is struggling at school,  has boy issues, friend issues and body image issues. I so wanted to go and give Mo a big old shake up for being so self absorbed and unable to talk to her daughter. Now I’m not saying I would probably do a better job with my daughter, but I definitely know I at least try. So this book has been a useful parenting manual for me – of what NOT to do, although I wouldn’t buy Mo’s fictional book.

Oscar’s story is somewhat peripheral, but gave me the ‘irates’ as his egotistic ramblings about Oscar Wilde and how he should attire himself for that day at school, became slightly tedious and unbelievable. His obsession with Mo’s co-worker was cringe worthy and perhaps this was how I was meant to feel; but again Mo seemed completely oblivious to what her children were up to. Oscar does redeem himself later in the book, just in time actually as I had just about decided not to read his narrative any more.

In the final few chapter of the book the father’s voice is heard and there we learn who the grounding force is in this family. I dont like to talk about book’s plots too much as I think we all interpret things very differently, suffice to say I enjoyed this story in the end. The story is simple, but there is enough nuance and complexity in the characters, who are mostly believable apart from oscar, to keep you entertained. The sub title of the book could be ‘a parents guide to facebook safety for their children’ and fair warning indeed.

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