Glasshopper by Isabel Ashdown

You will see from my blog on Sunday 20th March that Isabel posted a ‘taster’ on Twitter and I was hooked so just had to buy the book.  This is the blurb:
From the suburban disorder of 1980s southern England, 13-year-old Jake watches his world unravel as his father and older brother leave the family home and his mother increasingly finds solace in drink. Even as Jake outwardly shrugs off doubts about his paternity, the question hangs over him like an invisible spectre. A brilliantly structured novel, Glasshopper recreates the time and place of two childhoods and two marriages, evoking a poignant sense of home and family. A masterful debut, it celebrates the enduring optimism of youth, even in the face of tragedy.
This story of family life is told in two threads – both told in the first person.  The threads alternate between Jake (the middle son) and Mary.  Mary’s thread allows us a brief look into her childhood/teens which helps in understanding her descent into alcoholism.  We also get to read her perception alongside the similar timeline as Jake’s. This might sound confusing and you may have read other stories that are written this way and not enjoyed them ……………….  don’t let that put you off though as the two running side by side are crafted so skilfully that it makes perfect sense and adds to the magic.
At first I was a bit bewildered by the prologue and had it in the back of mind as the story unfolded.  I have to say, the way it is a part of the story is also very skilfully done.  It clicked for me straight away and because I couldn’t quite believe it, didn’t want it to be there – I read that part of the story again.  A bit like Jake wondering if he had been dreaming!  I was hoping for something different of course.  The characters became ‘real’ for me – I only wanted the best for them all.
The characters were well-defined and this includes those on the periphery.  Mr Horrocks who owns the local shop is exactly as you would imagine him to be as are all the other people who make up this brilliant story.
I could personally relate to parts of the story as they were a part of my own teen years.  For instance the street party celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977.  I remember the excitement leading up to it, the costumes that were made and the day itself. 
I journeyed alongside this family experiencing the warmth and the heartache.  The secrets that unravel and the ups and downs of family life are in reality a part of many lives.  At times I wondered where the story would lead to next and each time I hadn’t seen what change would take place, which direction we were heading.  I had no expectations so just let the story carry me along with its ebbs and flows. 
I finished reading Glasshopper a couple of days ago ……………. and I’m still thinking about it.  This isn’t one of those books that you read to pass the time and then forget.  I would definitely recommend Glasshopper being put on your reading list!

 For all relevant links, please check my blog on Sunday 20th March 2011.

One thought on “Glasshopper by Isabel Ashdown

  1. Pingback: Jera’s Jamboree : Book News ~ Summer of ’76 by @IsabelAshdown | Jera's Jamboree

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